NEW YORK September 25 – President Mwai Kibaki has allayed fears among American investors about Kenya\’s future and urged them to believe in the resilience of the Kenyan economy.
Speaking during a luncheon held in his honour at the Metropolitan Club in New York, President Kibaki noted that there were few countries that had recovered quickly from political challenges similar to the one that Kenya faced early in the year.
The Head of State asked the investors to acknowledge Kenya\’s resilience in the face of adversity adding that there are few countries in Africa that could match Kenya\’s investment opportunities for Americans.
"I urge you as investors to take note of this positive characteristic of Kenya\’s business culture and environment. The world should not worry about safety in Kenya and the future of the country anymore," the President said.
Noting that there existed economic opportunities for all categories of investors in the country, President Kibaki said that the unquenchable will of Kenyan people to safeguard peace enabled the nation achieve consensus and timely resolve the political challenge.
"It is rarely the case that such events are resolved so quickly, and we must therefore credit the people of Kenya, as well as our African and International friends for making it possible for us to achieve a quick solution for the political crisis," he noted.
The Head of State told the participants in the luncheon hosted by The Corporate Council on Africa and Commonwealth Business Council that although the concept of Grand Coalition Government was new in Africa and pioneered by Kenya, the unity of purpose had enabled the government reach compromise on very fundamental policy issues aimed at improving the living standards of the majority.
"On the economic front, we have harmonised all the policies and programmes of the major political parties into the Vision Twenty Thirty and the first five-year plan. We have a consensus on all major economic and social development policies and programmes," said President Kibaki.
The President elaborated that his Government had also laid down firm economic policy which would assure consistency and predictability to all potential investors to enable them roll out long term plans.
President Kibaki said; "As investors, I want to promise you that our economic policies will be credible, consistent and predictable, so that you are able to make long term decisions."
He told the participants that his government had given infrastructural development the highest priority to guarantee fast and efficient transportation of goods and eased movement of people.
"The port of Mombasa management is being strengthened, the hours of operation have been increased to 24, and the efficiency of the port\’s operation is being pushed upwards to international best practices. The railway is also being addressed, through efforts to revitalize the current concession," said the President.
The Head of State noted that the government of national unity had instituted measures to ensure successful resettlement of internally displaced citizens and to promote national cohesion through ethnic integration and resolution of all critical issues of national interests.
During the occasion President Kibaki commended American companies for their continued confidence in Kenya and singled out General Motors East Africa which has operated in Kenya for over 30 years.
He also thanked international soft drink manufacturer, Coca-Cola for locating the Africa regional offices in Kenya as well as Citibank, AIG among other American multinationals that have remained confident in Kenya\’s potential.
"Indeed, there are few countries in Africa that are so resilient in the face of adversity, or so full of opportunities for American investment," observed the President.
President Kibaki assured the investors that most businesses were on the path to recovering the losses incurred during the turbulent period and thanked American Companies for their steadfast support of the government\’s efforts to creating job opportunities for the Kenyan Youth.
Addressing the same forum, NBC travel editor, Peter Greenberg in his introductory remarks termed Kenya a first choice investment and tourist destination for Americans.
Mr Greenberg told the forum that in East Africa, Kenya is the place where business is born and flourish adding that the country is a hub of economic prosperity in agriculture and technology.
The editor who has been to Kenya 30 times dispelled fears of safety while travelling among Americans adding that many citizens lost lives or suffered serious injuries in their own residences resulting from accidents in bath tubs.
He elaborated that tourism could not only open up Africa but also explained that it remains one of Africa\’s most potential strategy of enhancing the continent\’s negative image as well as build its economy.
Greenberg told the forum that during President Kibaki\’s tenure of office, tourism earnings in Kenya had tripled and shot to one billion Kenya shillings and therefore termed the industry one of the biggest dreams to pursue.