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Kenyan finances optimistic about investment inflows

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya expects to make tremendous improvement in attracting foreign direct investments this year, the country’s head of investment agency told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday.

“Our outlook is very bullish,” said Moses Ikiara, Managing Director of Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest).

“In the last two years, there has been a lot of inquiries from foreign investors but because of August 2017 elections, they did not commit finances. But there was growth of projects nevertheless. The projects were coming but the actual release of money was being held back as many wanted to see the conduct of the elections,” Ikiara said in Nairobi.

He said the expectations are positive as he expects those who had identified projects but had not committed money to do so now.

“We expect to see the money flowing in now. From what we have seen already, the activity is very strong,” he said, pointing to the launch of Nippo Express and the commissioning of Pinnacle Towers Complex on Tuesday.

Nippo Express is set to become the world’s third largest logistics company, while Pinnacle Towers when completed will be the second tallest building in Africa, according to Ikiara.

Ikiara however said all depends on the political developments. “If the political situation remains and tensions do not go up again, we are going to have an excellent two years period,” said Ikiara.

Kenya elections were peacefully held on August 8, 2017 but the Supreme Court nullified the presidential vote.

A repeat election in October was boycotted by opposition leader Raila Odinga who swore himself in as “Peoples’ President” on Jan. 30, sparking a new wave of political tensions.

Ikiara said the most popular sector with foreign investors is construction, given the real estate’s high returns in Nairobi, followed by the energy sector.

“Agriculture is popular but the key challenge here is the issue of land ownership which is preventing a lot of investors from committing funds,” said Ikiara.



Kenya ministry highlights small firms to boost exports

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in a bid to boost exports, an official said Tuesday.

Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Trade, told a trade forum in Nairobi that the government has recognized the significant role that small firms can play in helping the country to boost its exports.

“We need a tremendous growth as well as a positive trajectory in the number of SMEs exporting so as to increase export volumes in order to help narrow the gap of the country’s ballooning trade deficit,” Kiptoo said during a mini exhibition for selection of participants to attend the 22nd Addis Ababa Chamber International Trade Fair that will take place from Feb. 22 to 28.

The trade ministry plans to roll out a product development program for SMEs that will include an enterprise capacity building component to focus on export trade training.

Kiptoo said the program also aims at equipping the entrepreneurs with knowledge and exporting skills as a way of increasing their readiness to export.

The PS said that though the opportunities in the export market can not be over emphasized, the reality is that, for Kenya to maximize and tap into these opportunities, it needs to re-align its orientation and deliberately work towards addressing the needs and requirements in the market.

According to the Economic Survey report of 2017, the East African nation’s total exports reached 5.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 compared to 8.5 billion dollars worth of imports in the same year.



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