Coinciding with UK Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt’s visit to Kenya, discussions began at the UK-Kenya Economic Development Forum in Nairobi.
The Forum explored ways of unlocking greater potential in trade, investment and job opportunities. It also analysed the current business environment and sought to address elements which act as an impediment to the growth of trade and investment.
Speaking at the forum, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK is pursuing a paradigm shift in her relations with developing countries away from aid dependency to business oriented relations.
The UK is by far the largest foreign investor in Kenya with investment worth over £2.7bn in 220 companies explained Principal Secretary, State Department of Trade, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Dr Chris Kiptoo.
He added that Kenya has put in place adequate legal measures to protect the rights both indigenous persons and foreign investors in matters of land ownership.
According to Emma Wade-Smith, who has been Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for Africa since June 2018 and was joint chair of the discussions, the UK has a £1bn credit facility which can equally benefit Kenya. In this regard, she said the UK would create export/project officer at the British Embassy in Nairobi to help mobilize finances.
Director Gen Budget, Physical and Economic Affairs, Geoffrey Mwau said that the Kenyan government is working on measures to remove structural rigidity which constrains affordable credit, especially on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s).
Tweeting after the meeting, Ms Kitchens described the discussions as “really constructive”, adding that they brought “together UK-Kenya relationships in development, commerce and diplomacy.”
Department for International Development country head Julius Court added there were positive discussions on the Big Four development agenda and resolving barriers over land and interest rate cap.
“We agreed to work together to mobilise private sector investment,” he added.
In separate talks, Mr Hunt and Dr Juma reviewed the growing range of bilateral relations as well as discussing cooperation in the pursuit of peace and security.
Running parallel to the forum, British Chamber Chairman Graham Shaw chaired a B2B discussion.
The meeting also heard from Nick Nesbitt, East African Business Council chairman and Andrew Cowan, East African Breweries Ltd CEO.
Following the meeting, Mr Shaw thanked all the CEOs and leaders of Industry for attending and providing some very sound advice, adding that he will follow up recommendations suggested during the talks “to the right decision makers”.