Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has urged US-based private investors to invest in Kenya, saying the country is the ideal “gateway to Africa” for those interested in investing in Africa.
Speaking at the Milken Global Conference via video link, Kenyatta said much has changed across Africa making old reputations of African countries as undesirable or risky places to invest, redundant.
Kenyatta said that with the current demographic and technological trends prevalent across the continent, Africa should increasingly matter to private investors worldwide; with the president adding that Africa is a continent that “repays considered engagement”.
“…soon, there will be almost a million young Africans of working age; and there are likely to be over 100 cities of at least a million people each. I need not remind you that young people and cities often drive innovation and growth,” Kenyatta said.
“In keeping with the theme of innovation, it is safe to say that technology has loosened old constraints: there are one and a half times as many mobile phone users in Africa as in the US. That’s a stark reminder that we will happily take up new technology, and end it to our ends,” the president said.
Pointing to the fact that over the past decade, foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa from Western Europe was more than double that from the US – with FDI from the US also considerably lower than that flowing from Asia – Kenyatta called US investment “lagging”.
Nonetheless the president said for those private investors hoping to become active in Africa, Kenya is the ideal starting ground – the “gateway to Africa”.
“I know many of you want to change that picture [of lagging US investment]. If you do, Kenya is the place to start. We are the gateway to Africa; its ninth-largest economy; and the heart of a community of 150 million people. We aim to make the most of these advantages,” he said..
In particular, Kenyatta said Kenya is eager to form partnerships promoting the ICT, film, energy, agriculture, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors.
The president concluded that while some US investor interest is beginning to surface, Kenya would like to “encourage more”.