Kenya Government officials led by President Uhuru Kenyatta have today negotiated deals worth Shs. 10 billion (approximately 100 million US dollars)at the ongoing US-Kenya conference in Nairobi.
The 60-member American delegation to the bilateral conference which is organised by the US Chamber of Commerce is led by the US Under-Secretary for Commerce Gilbert Kaplan and is aimed at interrogating President Kenyatta’s big 4 development agenda for investment opportunities.
Speaking during the official opening of the conference this morning, President Kenyatta who was accompanied by several cabinet secretaries and high ranking government bureacrats, challenged the American and Kenyan private sector to take advantage of the opportunities presented by his big 4 development blueprint to invest in the country.
President Kenyatta particularly outlined the immense opportunities that exist in manufacturing, food and nutrition, affordable housing and provision of universal health care-the four areas at the core of the president’s second term in office.
“Given our long and well-established relationship, we can do more together. I invite the US Companies to walk with us on the big 4 journey,” President Kenyatta said.
In his statistics ladden speech, the Kenyan President noted that the US private sector has a competitive advantage in housing, health technologies and pharmaceuticals aspects that his administration is looking at tapping into.
“In addition to the resources, we anticipate that American investors would bring in knowledge and technology transfer,” the President observed.
Speaking just before President Kenyatta, Under-Secretary Kaplan said that the US was committed to supporting Kenya’s big 4 agenda by attracting American investments into the country.
The US minister who is leading the 60 business executives from the US Presidential Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa noted that Kenya’s business environment had improved remarkably under President Kenyatta.
The multi-billion shilling deals agreed upon will cover both public and private sector investments and will mostly be channeled into big 4 leaning projects.
Among the outstanding of the many agreements agreed upon include a 20 million dollar deal between the Kenyan government and American firm Medtronic for a medical dialysis centre whose scope will cover strengthening specialised medical services in the country.
Others include a partnership agreement between Rendeavour and Unity Homes for the construction of 1,200 affordable homes in Tatu City in Kiambu County worth 40 million dollars, a 10 million dollars credit line from World Business Capital, a global small and medium enterprise financier, to Victoria Commercial Bank, a projects and investments financing arrangement between USAID Power Africa and the Kenyan Government designed to enable Kenya achieve its objective of ensuring universal electrification by 2022.
The USAID Power Africa-Kenyan pact framework will enable Kenyan power sector utility and infrastructure institutions covering Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO), Kenya Power and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to access financing for their projects.
President Kenyatta also witnessed the signing of an agreement between the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) with the Kenya Tea and Development Agency (KTDA) to undertake a feasibility study for a solar and battery storage project.
The solar and battery storage project, when developed, will provide KTDA, which a is a leading global exporter of black tea, with approximately 30 megawatts of reliable electricity, while also reducing operating costs at its tea factories.
Further, the President oversaw the signing of agreement by leading US energy company for supply and commissioning of East Africa’s largest off-grid solar and battery system. The 1260 kWh battery system will be installed at the Serena Safari Lodge in the Amboseli National Park.
The United States ranks as Kenya’s seventh largest trading partner with overall trade standing at Sh104 billion for the year 2017. It is also Kenya’s third leading export destination at Sh47.27 billion.
During the conference being held at the expansive UN Complex in Gigiri, the US delegation and their Kenyan hosts are expected to deliberate and establish mechanisms for improving Kenya-US trade which is currently in favour of the US.
Some of the recommendations for improving trade between the two countries being considered include deepening the understanding of the US market by Kenyan traders especially for identified niche markets as well as fashioning ways of supporting Kenyan exporters to comply with the US market requirements and standards.
Kenya is also keen to increase awareness and knowledge in both public and privater sectors of the AGOA trade pact, which has for years provided a big window for Kenyan goods to the US.