This is How More Jobs Can be Created through Increased Investment

Kenya is awash with invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties that are beg­ging to be seized. They are in diverse sec­tors that include tourism, agri­cul­ture, tex­tile, footwear, ICT, and manufacturing.

At the heart of Kenya’s invest­ment jour­ney is the Kenya Invest­ment Author­i­ty (Ken­In­vest), whose man­date is to pro­mote and facil­i­tate pri­vate invest­ment in Kenya, both from domes­tic and for­eign investors.

In order to revamp this vital invest­ment body, we need to devel­op a con­ducive legal invest­ment frame­work. Crit­i­cal­ly, there is dire need for the Nation­al Invest­ment Coun­cil to be estab­lished. Although anchored in the Invest­ment Act that came into force in 2004, 17 years lat­er this Coun­cil has nev­er been estab­lished nei­ther has this respon­si­bil­i­ty been trans­ferred else­where. Once it is estab­lished, it will ensure high-lev­el deci­sion-mak­ing since it will be chaired by the President.

There is also an urgent need for both the gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tor to pri­or­i­tize the reli­able, con­sis­tent, and com­pre­hen­sive col­lec­tion of invest­ment data. Cur­rent­ly, such data bare­ly exists at the nation­al and coun­ty lev­els, which under­mines smart invest­ment deci­sions. Ques­tion­ably, Ken­in­vest issues Invest­ment Cer­tifi­cates that do not nec­es­sar­i­ly con­nect investors to dis­tinct incen­tives as it is prac­ticed in oth­er East Africa Com­mu­ni­ty (EAC) Coun­tries includ­ing Rwan­da. Con­se­quent­ly, some For­eign Direct Investors (FDI) sim­ply pro­ceed to estab­lish invest­ments direct­ly, and, in this sense, accu­rate data that would be relied upon by the Kenya Nation­al Bureau of Sta­tis­tics (KNBS) is lost.

In order for Ken­In­vest to shep­herd tril­lions of invest­ment funds into the coun­try, it needs to oper­ate at an opti­mal lev­el. At such a lev­el, the Invest­ment Coun­cil should be ful­ly oper­a­tional. In addi­tion, fund­ing for Ken­In­vest should be guar­an­teed and suf­fi­cient to even sup­port diverse valu­able Invest­ment sym­po­siums. Fur­ther­more, there should be a real-world One Stop Shop (OSS) to ensure the reg­is­tra­tion of all investors and coor­di­nate investment.

As re-count­ed Kenya’s invest­ment strug­gles were evi­denced dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter of 2019 when man­u­fac­tur­ing reduced by 3.9 per­cent. This was a sharp decline from 2018 when it expand­ed by 4 per­cent dur­ing the same peri­od. These fig­ures rep­re­sent thou­sands of peo­ple whose jobs are either lost or gained every time man­u­fac­tur­ing con­tracts or expands. In this regard, invest­ment has a direct bear­ing on peo­ple’s livelihoods.

There­fore, I sug­gest that we bor­row a leaf from South Africa’s high­ly strate­gic approach to investment.

South Africa’s indus­tri­al­iza­tion vision is sup­port­ed by four mas­ter plans. Through the poul­try mas­ter plan, Shs 5.7 bil­lion was invest­ed to upgrade poul­try pro­duc­tion. Con­se­quent­ly, South Africa now pro­duces one mil­lion more chick­ens every week. Sim­i­lar growth was expe­ri­enced through the cloth­ing, tex­tile, footwear, and leather mas­ter­plan. In late 2019, more than Shs 3.5 Tril­lion was invest­ed into this sec­tor in order to increase local man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ties togeth­er with Small, Medi­um, and Micro Enter­pris­es (SMMEs).

In the same invest­ment vein, Ford Motor Com­pa­ny in South Africa invest­ed Shs 114 bil­lion towards the expan­sion of their man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty and con­se­quent increase in man­u­fac­tur­ing the next-gen­er­a­tion Ford Ranger bakkie. In his State of the Nation address last Feb­ru­ary, South African Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa announced that this par­tic­u­lar Ford Invest­ment would, ‘sup­port the growth of around 12 small and medi­um enter­pris­es in the auto­mo­tive component.’

Such is the pow­er of invest­ment in expand­ing the pri­vate sec­tor, enhanc­ing its pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, cre­at­ing jobs, and spurring eco­nom­ic growth.

Kenya is well poised to fol­low in South Africa’s robust invest­ment foot­steps. Despite the eco­nom­ic chal­lenges occa­sioned by Covid-19, Kenya’s econ­o­my remains the strongest in the region. It accounts for more than 40% of the East African GDP. This pre­dom­i­nant eco­nom­ic pres­ence in the region is fueled by eco­nom­ic growth that has aver­aged approx­i­mate­ly 6 per­cent for the past decade. Our infla­tion rate of 5.7 per­cent has pro­vid­ed fur­ther sta­bil­i­ty to this economy.

In the midst of this strong econ­o­my, we con­tin­ue to have one of Africa’s most skilled workforce.

Against this back­drop of a strong econ­o­my and an equal­ly strong work­force, Kenya is ripe for dras­ti­cal­ly increased invest­ment. For this to hap­pen, we need to ful­ly empow­er Ken­In­vest and oth­er invest­ment stake­hold­ers in the country.

As such, we should redou­ble our efforts in guar­an­tee­ing a con­ducive invest­ment cli­mate in the coun­try. Thank­ful­ly as a World Bank respon­dent on Ease of Doing Busi­ness in Kenya I can con­firm that we are on track to do so. In the 2020 edi­tion of the World Bank’s Doing Busi­ness rank­ings, Kenya shot to the 56th place up from 86th spot the year before. We must now improve on this by unlock­ing the flood­gates of invest­ment. That way, we shall be on course to achieve dou­ble-dig­it eco­nom­ic growth that will in turn fuel more investment.

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About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

Celebrating International Women’s Day Through Tree Planting at Ngong Road Forest

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