, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – Preparations for the upcoming 14th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which will be held in Nairobi between 17 and 22 July have begun.
Industry, Trade and Investment Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said that the country will be ready to host the week-long conference that will bring together Heads of State, ministers and other players to discuss global trade and economic development.
“We have officially kicked off preparations for The 14th UNCTAD which will be held in Nairobi. We want to assure Kenyans that we will be ready to accommodate the seven thousand expected visitors comfortably,” Mohamed said.
The conference, which comes to Kenya and Africa for the first time, will be held at the backdrop of other major events that have been brought to Kenya in the last twelve months. Such include the World Trade Organization ministerial conference in December and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in July 2015.
“Hosting Pope Francis, who is one of the most influential leaders globally, also raised the country’s status. We expect this event and others, such as TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development), to have similar impacts, if not greater,” he said.
It is also noteworthy that UNCTAD is headed by a Kenyan – former trade Minister Dr Mukhisa Kituyi is the Secretary General.
Mohamed also said that the Conference is a big score for Kenya’s investment space and tourism arena as it will once again put Kenya on the investment and tourism destination maps of the world.
As far as investment is concerned, Mohamed explained that Kenya was also ensuring that it enhances the investment ecosystem to lure foreign investors.
“We are also working to remove barriers that make investors shy away from investing in the country. Barriers include high interest rates for both local, foreign investors and lack of adequate information on where to invest in and high cost of manufacturing locally among other challenges,” he said.
In turn, Mohamed said that the government was working with banks to negotiate on the high rates of interest.
Additionally, Mohamed said that the government is in the process of developing a portal that will have investment ideas about Kenya and about the other countries that Kenya engages with in trade.
He also said that the government was working on a road map that will see the manufacturing sphere become more favourable.
“We acknowledge that the manufacturing sector is not growing as fast as ICT, financial services and real estate are. We know the hurdles the sector faces such as the high cost of electricity, but we are working to lower the cost of electricity in places such as Naivasha to see more people setting manufacturing plants there.”
UNCTAD XIV was originally set to be held in Lima, Peru in March 2016, but in early September 2015, the Government of Peru informed UNCTAD that it could no longer host the conference due to the latest negative forecasts for the El Niño weather event.