, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – Kenya’s growing attractiveness as an ideal place to do business could have led to an additional Sh20 billion worth of investments into the country in 2011 compared to the previous year.
According to preliminary data from the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), last year recorded increased interest from the multinational firms wanting to expand their operations into the country.
“I am looking at anything around Sh180 billion because last year was slightly better. I think the growth is because of the attractiveness of our destination and companies looking at serving the EAC (East African Community) and the Great Lakes region from Kenya,” explained Acting Managing Director Julius Korir.
While Kenya has always enjoyed strategic location as a gateway to the East African region, it has over the years had to work on improving its business environment that guarantees good returns for investors.
The country has had a boost from the rapid development of its financial and transport services that have contributed to make it a hub and give it a competitive edge in the region.
Stakeholders however concur that the government cannot just rely on this strong point as well as a well educated workforce to guarantee a conducive climate, but has to put in place policy measures that can complement these factors to attract, promote and retain sustainable investment.
For this reason, Korir who spoke after an interview on Capital in The Morning, announced that the much awaited ‘One-Stop Shop’ concept where investors will be able to obtain all necessary approvals, licenses, certificates and permits all ‘under one roof’ would be rolled out before mid this year.
This concept will be undertaken alongside the digital one that allows investors to register their businesses and apply for various licenses even before they set foot in the country.
To spur further business growth, the government has also over the years been working on a strategy to reform the business regulatory reform agenda.
The Business Regulation Bill whose enactment has been delayed for nearly three years is now ready for debate in Parliament, Korir disclosed.
With its enactment, the law will eliminate the excessive and strenuous licensing practices and procedures have been cited as major impediments in the achievement of a conducive and competitive investment climate.
In addition it will encourage various government agencies to liaise with regulators to ensure that all licensing regulations do not overlap and that they conform to international best practice.
Despite all these efforts, the MD acknowledged that the complex taxation regime and land issues coupled with the unstable power supply remain key concerns for investors.
While KenInvest is trying to engage with agencies such as Kenya Power and KenGen to fast track measures that would ensure the availability of cheap and reliable power, it is also seeking partnerships to encourage owners of huge tracts of land to release them for investments.
“We are discussing with them (land owners) on the most acceptable modalities on which they are going to partner with the investors,” he said while adding that they were mainly targeting huge tracts of idle land.
He was also quick to point out that the authority was undertaking measures to bust the myth that investments can only come from foreigners adding that several initiatives had been carried out to unlock the investment potential in all the 47 counties across the country.
The authority has been holding forums that bring together provincial administration, government and local authorities representatives at the provincial level, and the business community to discuss pertinent issues affecting smooth and easy operation of investment ventures in their respective regions in the country.
He exuded confidence that these efforts will make a huge difference and have already begun bearing fruit as demonstrated by several investments being undertaken in some of the counties.