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Thika Road under construction/FILE

Kenya

WB urges Kenya to hasten investment plans

Thika Road under construction/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3- Kenya needs to speed up its various investment plans and enhance capacity to implement infrastructure projects in order to achieve faster and sustainable growth, a senior World Bank official has said.

Visiting World Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte said on Friday that the country had great opportunities for sustained growth which can only be fully exploited if the government keeps up with the pace of reforms and execution.

“We are optimistic about the possibility for Kenya to sustain quite high growth rates but in order to do that the execution of the very compelling vision for energy, water resources management for transport and infrastructure need to go ahead of pace,” she stressed.

This will particularly be crucial in 2012, which is an election year and where historically, economic growth tends to slow down and this calls for increased collaboration between all stakeholders.

The political risks posed by the electioneering period are however not of much concern to the bank which intends to carry out its work in partnership with the government’s agencies to ensure that ongoing projects are fully implemented and delivered on time.

At a press briefing, Kyte expressed commitment to assist the government achieve its objectives with the end result being to significantly reduce poverty levels in the country.

In this regard, the World Bank boss disclosed that some Sh125 billion in additional funding would be released over the next two years to fund various projects in energy and water management across the country.

Already, the bank has an investment portfolio of over $2 billion (Sh166 billion) in Kenya which excludes funds from its private arm, the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

The official has been on a three day tour of East Africa to take stock of the projects that are being implemented in partnership with the World Bank and expressed her satisfaction at the progress that has been made in Kenya so far.

While pointing to the shocks such as drought, effects of the euro zone crisis and high energy costs that the Kenyan economy has suffered over the last three years, Kyte lauded the government for its response which has helped to lessen their impact on the ordinary citizens.

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“The way in which Kenya has come through that series of shocks speaks to stability and strength in the economy and in macro economic environment, which should be applauded,” she commended.

The future challenge however will be to maintain a firm grip on fiscal policy while at the same time ensuring a conducive environment that allow more investments both from local and foreign firms.

Such measures for instance include improving efficiency at the Port of Mombasa so as to increase trade and enhance competitiveness of goods from Kenya and East African Community.

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