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Kenya seeks Sh100b private investments

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – Kenya aims to attract about Sh100 billion as private investments this year, which will enhance the country\’s competitiveness as an investment destination.

However, with an improved investment climate, Kenya Investment Authority Managing Director Susan Kikwai is optimistic that this figure can reach nearly Sh160 billion.

“We are coming up with other creative ways of getting investors through such things as re-investment. So we are taking time to visit a lot of investors in Kenya and telling them to put in more money (in their businesses) and expand,” Mrs Kikwai said.

According to the Medium Term Plan (MTP) of the Vision 2030, the country requires to bring in approximately Sh200billion every year for it to attain and be able to sustain a growth rate of 10 percent per annum.

Earlier projections had been that the country needs to invest Sh500billion in the five years to 2012 (first MTP) but this figure was later revised upwards.

In 2009, the country brought in Sh164billion but this figure declined to Sh156billion in 2010. The drop can largely be attributed to poor infrastructure systems and high energy costs which are a major obstacle to growth and competitiveness.

These factors have also contributed to Uganda and Tanzania becoming favoured destinations of choice for foreign direct inflows as opposed to Kenya.

Mrs Kikwai however said the government had made great strides especially in infrastructure development but acknowledged the need to do more in order to reduce the cost of doing business and boost the country\’s profile as an attractive investment destination.

The government’s plan to raise Sh16.4 billion ($200million) to construct the proposed commuter train system for example are laudable, the MD said, as it would bring in more foreign investors into the country.

Provisions of roads, water and electricity and communication facilities would not only assist in improving the business environment but also in opening up in the rural and remote areas for investments.

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The KenInvest MD spoke on the sidelines of the launch of the first county investment fair that is designed to promote the South Eastern region’s investment opportunities.

Dubbed the ‘South Eastern Investment Conference and Expo, SEICO 2011’, the event will bring together domestic and foreign investors as well as the general public to identify ways of unlocking the investment potential in the participating counties of Makueni, Kitui and Machakos.

“South Eastern region is an economic powerhouse that is ready to do business. The region’s fortunes have dramatically changed in the last couple of months thanks to the new constitution. SEICO 2011 will be an ideal platform to position a company and market its products and services,” the event organisers said.

Kangundo Member of Parliament Johnson Muthama who was in attendance challenged people from the region to take ownership of the projects in their area instead of leaving them in the hands of foreigners.

This, he advised they could do by forming cooperatives through which they can pool their resources together and invest in sectors such as property development, and ICT.

This was particularly important as the country gears up towards the implementation of the devolved system of government which requires counties to mobilise their own resources.

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