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Foreign firms in Kenya nervous about regime transition

The firm also anticipates condensed forex into the country following a notable reduction of the number of new businesses flowing into Kenya/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 1 -Foreign companies operating in Kenya are nervous should there be adverse changes in the event of a change of guard after the August General Election.

This is according to a study by immigration consultancy firm Fragomen Kenya which says foreign firms are familiar with business policies outlined by the current government.

The consultancy’s Practice Lead George Mucee, however, clarifies that a regime change would not be necessarily bad, but investors could hold on longer before committing decisions in the transition period.

“A lot of our clients are already asking directly who we think will win the elections. Many seem to be comfortable with the current government as it has created a stable business environment. It is not that a different one would be necessarily bad, but there are concerns what that change may mean,” Mucee said.

The firm also anticipates condensed forex into the country following a notable reduction of the number of new businesses flowing into Kenya.

According to Mucee, previous experiences with elections, especially the 2007 one, have had a negative impact on businesses, thus the reluctance of venturing during this season.

“We have noticed a trend where foreigners working in Kenya have refused to renew their work permits with a majority of those transferring to countries such as South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria.”

The August polls will also weigh on inflation as campaign monies circulate in the economy. A worsening drought situation may further put pressure on prices in the short-mid term.

As far as immigration is concerned, Mucee says that the outcomes of Brexit and US President Donald Trump’s election will definitely have an impact in Kenya.

“Both outcomes have a very clear theme; these countries are putting their people first, hence strict rules for migrants especially those seeking job opportunities. Therefore, Kenyans should expect much more stringent rule while applying for visas to travel to these countries.”

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The firm is, however, optimistic that the changes will not adversely affect Kenya’s relationship with both the US and the UK.

The Practice Lead explains that Kenya’s deeply rooted relationship with UK is unlikely to change, while Trump’s leadership may have some advantages as his Republican has in the past benefitted Kenya substantially.

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