London, UK, Apr 17 – President Uhuru Kenyatta kicked off the program for his five-day visit to the UK by presiding over the opening ceremony of the London Stock Exchange.
Speaking after the ceremony, President Kenyatta urged UK investors to increase their investments in Kenya. The UK is a leading investor in Kenya with at least 220 British companies operating in Kenya running business valued at more than 2.7 billion Sterling Pounds.
President Kenyatta, who was joined by the Secretary State for International Development (DfID) Penny Mordaunt and the Chairman of the London Stock Exchange Group Donald Brydon, said Kenya is open for business and offers the best investment opportunity in Africa.
“Kenya has just recorded the best improvement in ease of doing business. We are inviting more UK companies to invest in Kenya,” said the President. “Kenya is the third most competitive country in Africa with a liberalised economy.”
He said the business environment in Kenya is supported by a strong telecommunication network, a reformed regulatory framework and an efficient aviation network.
The President said London is a strong partner for Kenya’s economy and this was evident when Kenya’s sovereign bond was oversubscribed by more than 7 times a few months.
“The United Kingdom continues to be a valuable economic partner in Kenya’s socio-economic policies,” said the President.
The President, who was accompanied by Trade and Industry CS Adan Mohamed and Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma said the London Stock Exchange and the Nairobi Securities Exchange have entered into an agreement for dual listing and this will increase business between Kenya and then UK.
He said the National Oil Company will dual list on both NSE and the LSE. Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau said he expected the listing to be affected by next year.
Mr Brydon said the London Stock Exchange is ready to partner with Kenya on the President Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda for Kenya’s growth especially in affordable housing through securitisation.
President Kenyatta said the London Stock Exchange is also working with NSE on an initiative called the ‘elite program’ to support SMEs.
The British Secretary of State for International Development said Kenya and London are similar in the sense that they are both financial hubs.
She said London is the main financial hub for the commonwealth nations but has more to offer than capital alone.
“We have more than capital to offer. We have expertise to offer and that is why we have launched the commonwealth digital finance champions group.
After the visit to the London Stock Exchange, President Kenyatta was scheduled to hold a private meeting with Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.
The President was then scheduled to join Prime Minister Theresa May for an event on plastics control. Kenya is a leading champion of environmental conservation and set a new trend recently with the ban on the use of plastic packaging.
In the afternoon, President Kenyatta will attend a Kenya-UK business forum. Some of the companies that are attending the business forum include Diageo, Quantum Power, Tullow Plcc, Arch Emerging Markets among others.
The President will then deliver an address at Chatham House where he will showcase Kenya’s achievements in making economic growth inclusive and the role it has played in supporting regional peace.