NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29 – Eleven of the biggest companies in Japan commanding a total market capitalization of over Sh60 trillion now want to start doing business in Kenya.
Chief executives of the 11 companies expressed their interest to invest in energy, infrastructure, health and innovative technology among other projects when they met President Uhuru Kenyatta one-on-one at State House, Nairobi.
The Japanese industry executives, who had initially held a meeting with the Kenyan private sector, were joined by five Kenyan business leaders at the State House talks. The representatives of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance were Paul Chepkwony of Jamii Telecoms, Rita Kavashe of General Motors, Chris Kirubi of Centum Investment Company, Dennis Awori of Toyota Tshusho and Joshua Oigara of KCB.
The decision by the Japanese companies to invest in Kenya is likely to boost the country’s economy whose growth is already on a positive trajectory.
Kenya has already witnessed significant flows of Foreign Direct Investment (DFI) from Japan with companies like Toyota Kenya, Nissan and Honda establishing motor vehicle assembling plants in the country.
The Honda plant is jointly owned by Honda, a Japanese firm (90 per cent) and a Kenyan investor (10 per cent).
The 11 giant companies were among the 75 leading Japanese companies that participated in the sixth Tokyo International Conference on Development (TICAD VI) – which ended on a high note on Sunday.
The companies were Toray Industries with a market capitalization of Sh901 billion which was represented by Dr Sakakibara Sadayuki, the Chairman of Keidanren (Japanese Business Federation) who also led the delegation at the business and development conference in Nairobi.
Kanou Hisanori represented the Sh3.4 trillion worth JFE Engineering Corporation, Karube Jun of Toyota Tsusho Corporation whose market capitalization is Sh1.3 trillion while Furuhata Yohei represented Nippon Signal Co. Ltd with a market capitalization of Sh50 billion.
Kubota Corporation which is worth Sh1.6 trillion was represented by Kimata Masatoshi, the Sh4 trillion Japan Tobacco Company by Koizumi Mitsuomi, Fukuyama Transporting Company with market capitalization of Sh99 billion by Komaru Shigehiro and the Sh3.6 billion Mitsubishi Hitach Power Systems represented by Nishizawa Takato.
The other Japanese business magnets were Saito Tamotsu who represented Ihi Corporation worth Sh16 trillion, Seto Kinya of LIXIL Group Corporation whose market capitalization stands at Sh220 billion while Toyo Constructing Company worth Sh36 billion was represented by Takezawa Kyoji.
Some of the ongoing projects by Japanese companies in Kenya include the construction of a connection bridge in front of the Nairobi train station by JFE Engineering Corporation; improvement of water supply system in Embu by Konoike Construction Co. Ltd and a green toilet system project in Naivasha by LIXIL Corporation.
On Sunday, 73 Memorandums of Understanding were signed to boost trade between the African continent and Japan.
The 73 MOUs involve 22 Japanese companies and universities with the African countries.
The deals came after Japan’s pledge to commit $30 billion in public and private support for infrastructure development, education and healthcare expansion in Africa over the next three years.
Speaking during the signing of the MOUs on Sunday, President Kenyatta stressed the importance of entrepreneurship as a key driver of economic growth, socio-economic transformation, job creation and social inclusion.
On his part, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said 67 per cent of previous funds pledged by his country to Africa had already been put to use in various projects.