The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: 20 Turkish Steel Firms Eye Local Investment

A group of at least 20 steel companies from Turkey are keen to invest in Kenya because of the Lamu Port project and the discovery of oil, gas and iron ore in the country.

The companies, under the Steel Exporters' Association, have met several stakeholders in the local steel industry and Industrialisation ministry officials to discuss their plans.

Yesterday, the association board chairman Namik Ekinci and other officials visited the port of Mombasa to inspect its operations. He said the group will invest in Kenya to tap the mineral potential."Our main objective is to be here permanently because Kenya has increased importance in the world because its economic and social development is on the right track," said Ekinci through a translator Nezih Karaman.

Turkish embassy commercial counsellor Koray Demircan said the short-term plan is to open storage facilities for the steel, including depots at the Mombasa port. Demircan said with the discovery of the minerals and the Lamu port project underway, there is bound to be a lot of development and need for infrastructure.

Kenya has recently announced the discovery of gas, oil and iron ore minerals in various parts of the country including the Coast and Turkana. "This is so that importers will not have to wait for long for the steel," said Demircan. Ekinci said the Turk will also help build capacity to exploit the minerals available in the country.

Kenya's consumption of steel per capita is rated at 22kg, while that of Turkey is at 360kg against the 450kg of most other industrialized countries. Turkey is the second largest producers of steel in Europe and are ranked eighth in the world. They supply steel to 180 countries worldwide.

In 2011, Kenya imported a USD 877 million worth of steel with eight per cent of this coming from Turkey. "There has been a decrease in exports to Kenya this year. We can't really pinpoint the primary reason for this decrease," said Ekinci.

The Turks said they are seeking a win-win partnership with Kenya so as to also enhance ties between the two countries. Turkey imports leather, tomato seeds and tea, among other things from Kenya while Kenya imports iron steel and fertilizers among other things from Turkey.

"The demand is currently low in terms of shipping so we ship through containers but when the volumes increase we will use bulky carriers," said Ekinci.

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