NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged the business communities of Kenya and Tanzania to play their role effectively to accelerate trade between the two countries.
He said governments could create the necessary environment for investment – including delivering good policies and building infrastructure – but nothing will be achieved if the business community does not step in.“We – as a region – can no longer afford businesses which are either corrupt, insensitive to our neighbours’ cultures or which do not act with the imagination and innovation that we need to achieve our goals,” President Kenyatta said.
The President was speaking today at a Nairobi hotel during a Kenya-Tanzania Business Forum which was also addressed by President Jakaya Kikwete.
President Kenyatta emphasized that the two countries need businesses that are committed to the region and innovation, businesses that will compete hard but fairly.
“It is in doing so that we can be sure of prosperity,” President Kenyatta said.
He asked the private sector in Kenya and Tanzania to establish framework similar to that created by the Joint Commission for Cooperation to promote business between the two countries.
The President said such ties would hasten growth and accelerate prosperity and integration.
President Kenyatta observed that although Kenya is a leading African investor in Tanzania with exports amounting to Sh 43 billion, there was room for trade expansion if the innovation and entrepreneurial potential of the people were fully exploited.
“If we plan carefully, work more closely together and let the capital, talent and energy of our people cross our borders freely, then there is no reason why we cannot double or triple our trade,” President Kenyatta said.
He said Kenya favours integration not just because it is good and right but because it has also proved to be a conduit of prosperity.
The President pointed out that the whole range of international relations need to take clear lessons on what integration has done to the wider global arena.
“That is why Kenya recently hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. That is why, in December this year, we will host the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization — a first to be held in Africa,” he said.
President Kikwete said his government is committed to regular consultations with the private sector to improve the business environment and woo more investors to the country.
Describing Kenya as the largest African investor in Tanzania, President Kikwete assured of continued availability of labour force considering that 50 percent of the country’s population is below 30 years.
“Tanzania and Kenya need one another in all spheres and should always strive to enhance trade and investment between them,” said President Kikwete.
The Tanzanian leader said his country has no intentions of nationalizing investments and will continue to allow repatriation of dividends without restrictions.
He thanked Kenyan investors for being part of Tanzania’s development. The President also called on investors in the country to continue honouring tax obligations to enable the government to meet its development priorities.
Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Kiprono Kittony described business as the best frontier for any country.
Kittony thanked the East African Community leadership for making the common market protocol a reality thus facilitating free movement of goods, services and labour across the borders.
On his part, the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation Executive Director Godfrey Simbeye said Kenya and Tanzania are natural partners. He added that the survival of African countries relies on partnerships.