London — President Mwai Kibaki has said Kenya is an investment destination of choice and called upon investors in the United Kingdom and across the world to take advantage of the lucrative investment opportunities available in the country.
Speaking on Tuesday when he officially opened the Kenya Investment Conference at Lord Mayor's Mansion House, London, President Mwai Kibaki outlined the measures that have been put in place to create a conducive investment environment in the country.
He singled out the enactment of the new constitution as one of the measures that has gone a long way in creating an environment hospitable to investment.
Said the president: "Two years ago, we enacted a new Constitution, which among other things, guarantees the rights of investors, and establishes strong governance structures."
The president further said Kenya had also witnessed a major transformation in infrastructure development saying that a massive programme of road construction and rehabilitation across the country has been carried out.
"We have also upgraded our airports and increased efficiency at the port of Mombasa and other border points," he added.
President Kibaki also noted that the Government of Kenya has facilitated massive investments in the energy sector in an effort to increase electricity supply for the fast growing economy.
In addition, President Kibaki pointed out that the government has invested heavily in the ICT sector saying that a combination of innovation, effective regulation, and massive investment by the private sector has led to the rapid growth of mobile telephony as well as internet use.
The president said that today "Kenya is a world leader in the area of mobile banking which currently serves close to 20 million people in the country and beyond."
On the specific investment opportunities available, President Kibaki said most of them are flagship projects of Kenya's economic growth blue print, Kenya Vision 2030, which seeks to transform Kenya to a middle income country in the next few years.
"They include ICT projects, development and expansion of airports, construction of highways and railways as well as the establishment of tourist resorts and conference centres," said President Kibaki.
The president further said the energy sector also offers exciting investment opportunities adding that oil has recently been discovered in the northern part of Kenya and the country is awaiting final confirmation of its commercial viability.
"Kenya has huge amounts of untapped geothermal, wind and solar energy. These renewable sources of power have the potential to make Kenya one of the world's largest producers of green power," the president added.
The president assured investors that his government has put in place a conducive legal and fiscal framework to facilitate private sector investment in geothermal and wind resources.
In addition to these areas of investment, President Kibaki said that the greatest opportunities lie in manufacturing, agricultural value addition, as well as rare earth minerals mining and processing.
On bilateral relations, the president hailed the fraternal ties between Kenya and the United Kingdom saying the two countries have enjoyed excellent political and economic relations for many years.
"These ties have provided opportunities for education, training, trade, tourism and investment between us," said the president.
The president further noted that the United Kingdom is one of Kenya's leading trading partners. "Over 70 British companies have invested in our country. And recently, the British government has singled out Kenya as one of the top three countries in Africa with which they wish to deepen trade and economic relations," he said.
President Kibaki added that his government welcomes the strengthening of these economic relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Speaking during the opening, Rt Hon. Alderman David Wootton, The Lord Mayor of London and host of the Investment Conference lauded the Kenya government for marketing investment opportunities in the countries saying the UK is seeking to find and increase opportunities for British business in all markets.
As the Mayor of London, the Rt Hon. Wootton said he promotes British expertise and builds business partnerships in UK and abroad in finance, infrastructure and manufacturing among other areas.
"By building up markets abroad, we create business opportunities, jobs and growth at home as well as in other countries," said Alderman.
The further said that he looked forward to the signing of a memorandum of understanding on how the City of London will support Nairobi's own development as a financial centre.
On his part, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Henry Bellingham, hailed the Kenya Government for the progress the country was making in national development.
He noted that the prospects for the Kenyan economy, as other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, was promising.
He called for peaceful elections in the forthcoming general elections saying a smooth transition will further build on the favourable investment climate in the country.
Other speakers included the Director General, Commonwealth Business Council, Mr. Peter Longworth, Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri, Finance Minister Njeru Githae, Minister for Planning, national Development and Vision 2030, Wycliffe Oparanya, among others.
Also participating and making presentations in the conference were corporate and public sector officials Kenya Commercial Bank Chief Executive Martin Oduor-Otieno, Stephen Jennings, Chief Executive Officer, Renaissance Capital, Manu Chandaria, Chairman - Chandaria Group of Companies, KenGen Chief Executive Eddy Njoroge, Joe Wanjui, Brand Kenya CEO Rosemary Kimonye, Investment Secretary Esther Koimet and Vision 2030 CEO Kibati Mugo, among others.
Also present were Trade Minister Moses Wetangula, Minister for Information and Communication, Samuel Poghisio, Housing Minister Soita Shitanda and Youth and Sports Minister Paul Otuoma and Assistant Minister Kabando Kabando.