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Fresh effort to market Kenya abroad

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 21 – The Brand Kenya Board has entered into a partnership with the Kenya Overseas Business Alliance (KOBA) to promote the country as a top business and investment destination to citizens in the Diaspora and foreign investors.

The Board’s Chief Executive Officer Mary Kimonye said that through the partnership, they hope to achieve their mandate of improving Kenya’s image, visibility and competitiveness both locally and internationally.

“Our mandate is to provide for government an integrated mechanism of marketing the country. So we will partner with anybody who’s willing to work with us,” she said.

The collaboration will see the two parties organise an expo next week in London which will among other things provide a platform for investors to network and establish business relationships.

KOBA Chairman Sam Ochieng\’ disclosed that they intend to use their wide reach to inspire other Kenyans living abroad to embrace and market Kenya in those countries.

“We have the exposure internationally… we have the ability to see things change; we have the ability to organise an international event that will bring and promote Kenya to the next level,” the chairman said adding that the adoption of a new Constitution was a welcome boost for their efforts.

Present during the official launch of the collaboration was Finance Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua who expressed the government’s commitment to eliminate barriers that many investors face when seeking to establish their operations in Kenya.

Pointing to the amount of remittances that the government gets which is way above to what it receives from development partners, the PS particularly reinforced the importance of Kenyans in the Diaspora. Kenya has the highest number of African nationals living in the United Kingdom behind South Africa and Nigeria.

Figures from the Central Bank of Kenya show that Diaspora inflows in 2009 topped Sh49.3 billion ($609million) which is more than the contribution that some sectors make to the economy.

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This amount also outstrips what Kenya receives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help it meet its trade deficit which is about Sh64.8billion ($800 million), a borrowing that runs for three years.

The PS said the Diaspora remittances provide an alternative source for funding for government thus the need to come up with incentives that encourage them to send more money back home.

“You (Kenyans abroad) are more significant to us than such other (Bretton Woods) institutions. This is an avenue we would like to exploit and we would want it to be a two-way traffic.  We in the country have to also make our people who are living out there see that we appreciate them,” he said.

The government is yet to finalise a Diaspora Policy which would facilitate the rapid growth of remittances. Upon its implementation, the policy would incorporate the Diaspora Bond which the government has been working on to help it mobilise funds from Kenyans living abroad for various development programs in the country.

Although he did not give a progress report of where the legislation’s formulation has reached, Mr Kinyua said various reforms are being undertaken to create a conducive climate that can not only increase investor confidence but also attract new investments into the country.

“We are open and welcome potential investors willing to partner with us for our mutual benefit. The new Constitution has given the government a greater impetus to push forward the reform process,” he concluded adding that such an environment would propel the country towards the attainment of the goals set out in its long term development blueprint, Vision 2030.

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