, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21 – The International Finance Corporation plans to increase its investment in Kenya to Sh42.1 billion ($500 million) for the 2012/13 financial year from the $400 million committed for the year ending June 30, 2012.
Kenya constitutes 15 percent of the IFC’s sub-Saharan investment portfolio of Sh219.1 billion ($2.6 billion) for the FY 2011/12 and 72 percent of the East African region’s $550 million earmarked for spending this year.
Since 2010, the IFC’s investments in Kenya increased from Sh5.05 billion ($60 million) to the current Sh42.1 billion.
The Vice President at IFC Thierry Tanoh said Kenya remains a key priority investment country with infrastructure being an area of dire need, which received 40 percent of the investment budget for the FY 2011/12.
“Kenya is a country we would like to see grow beyond the current numbers. We’ve been keen in highlighting challenges in the infrastructure being updated and improved,” he said.
The IFC is in the process of closing a Sh4.21 billion ($50 million) investment deal with Kenya Power to help expand its distribution network as well as investments in two power generating plants for Gulf Power Sh2.61 billion ($31 million) and Thika Power Sh2.36 billion ($28 million).
Tanoh said Kenya still has to improve the investment climate adding that the IFC would be willing to provide the government with technical assistance in improving its “doing business” indicators.
As the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, the IFC has also contributed significantly to building capacity of local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through investing in the financial sector having already pumped 40 percent of this year’s Sh42.1 billion shillings into the sector.
“We just committed $100 million with Equity Bank which will go to Small and Medium Enterprises that is their focus. We have advisory services in Kenya focusing on SMEs where we do training and capacity building,” IFC Eastern and Southern Africa Director Jean Phillipe Prosper said.
The IFC signed its first project in South Sudan with a Kenyan company to the tune of Sh421.5 million ($5 million), as it extends its investments in the region.
The financier has increased the number of staff based in Nairobi now a little over 120, and has jointly purchased a building with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to service the Eastern and Southern region.
“We’ve staffed up so we’re looking at areas in wind, energy and tea sector as well as the manufacturing sector. So the pipeline is looking very promising. We’re going into an election year and we hope the vibrancy of the private sector will continue,” IFC Principal Investment Officer Aida Kimemia said.