NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 9 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has appealed to multinational corporations to take advantage of the Special Economic Zones being established by the government to expand their presence in Kenya.
He promised “maximum government support” for such corporations saying they are partners in helping create jobs and growing the economy.
The PM said that the support could include tax exemptions and holidays for such companies.
He was speaking when he met Paul Polman, the Chief Executive Officer of the consumer goods manufacturer Unilever in London on Thursday.
During the meeting, Polman disclosed that Unilever plans to increase its presence in Kenya with more investment in tea growing and manufacturing plants.
He said that Unilever would also continue investing in conservation of the environment with particular focus on the rehabilitation of the Mau Forest Complex.
Polman added that the company wants to put more money into small scale tea farming in Kericho area with the hope of doubling the growing of the crop by small farmers and confirmed that Unilever would set up more production facilities in Kenya with particular focus on household cleaning detergents meant for the rest of Africa.
The Nairobi operations would supply regions all the way to South Africa and Eastern Congo and Polman noted that it was more economical to operate out of Kenya.
The company will also seek a partnership with the government to improve food security and nutrition.
Raila thanked Unilever for supporting the restoration of the Mau and pledged government support for corporations seeking to expand their presence in Kenya.
The PM said that as a result of Unilever’s focus on environmental conservation, more Kenyans now appreciate the link between conservation and economic growth, especially food production.
He appealed to the company to continue its focus on conservation saying tea production in particular would collapse in Kenya without investment in the Mau.
He said Unilever could use the facilities being created in Mombasa, Lamu and Kisumu under the Special Economic Zones programme to expand production at competitive costs.
Raila said the harmonisation of taxation and production standards within the East Africa Community would make exportation of goods across the region easier and cheaper and he appealed to more companies to set up in Kenya to access the market.