, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 14 – Cabinet Secretaries and private sector representatives who attended the recent US-Africa summit in the US have described it as a major success for Kenya.
The officials who spoke at a briefing on Thursday say they are optimistic huge investment opportunities and support pledged by US companies will transform Kenya into a much stronger economy in the region.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Engineer Michael Kamau says nearly all key sectors in the government, including transport will greatly benefit from deals sealed during the trip.
One of the major achievements according to Kamau was high level discussions of having direct flights between Kenya and the US by early 2015.
“For example we have direct flights from here to Guangzhou, China. Of course it is so easier to go there rather than transit through London, to go and parade at the British High Commission waiting for a transit visa or alternatively through South Africa who have also imposed visa conditions. So direct flights are very important to us,” Kamau said.
The government is looking at working with national airline Kenya Airways or Delta Air Lines in achieving the direct flights adding that the business community both in Kenya and the US are looking at this as a major boost to business relations between the two countries.
“How do you have business with somebody if you have to go through an intermediary? How do you have serious business if your first stop over is Europe, and then you are kept on transit for six hours? Do you expect and American executive, to sit in an airport in Europe for six, seven hours?” Kamau wondered.
According to Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed, American investors are expected increase in the country following the visit.
“I think it’s difficult to say how many people they are but the win for us is the number of people who will be expressing interest to want to inquire about investing here,” Mohamed said.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku spoke of various agreements with US firms which will help enhance the country’s security one being the Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA).
The deal was signed between the acting US Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich.
“The signing of that assistance agreement brings a framework within which information will be shared and make sure that we are able to effectively deal with illegal immigration, the flow of illicit trade particularly dealing with the issue of poaching and wildlife products,” Lenku said, “this was a major take-home for us during the visit.”
Despite the achievements made in during the visit, Industrialist Chris Kirubi regretted the huge gap that exists between the achievements being made in Kenya and what goes out there through the media.
“The only people who don’t believe in Kenya and who believe Kenya is dangerous to invest in are our own media. Next time it will be good to take at least a representative from every media house, to really go and see how Kenya is valued abroad. Please, media, love your country,” Kirubi challenged, “We cannot be talking of big things, and the media is talking of small things.”
He also called for greater partnership between the government and private sector in improving the country’s economy.