EXPERT VIEW

World Expo Dubai 2020 to position Kenya globally

In Summary
  • Early preparedness would give Kenya an edge even as the World focus has already shifted to Argentina 2023 and Japan 2025 Expositions.
  • World expos have been held since the 19th Century where the first of its kind was in 1851 in London
A Chinese exhibitor takes a Kenyan visitor through some of the products being showcased at the expo/COURTESY
A Chinese exhibitor takes a Kenyan visitor through some of the products being showcased at the expo/COURTESY

World expos are no different avenues to market countries with world cub, Olympics Games, and such events of global magnitude.

The difference is world expositions are global events that are executed between three to six months in a calendar that is developed and implemented with the regulation of the Bureau for International expositions (BIE) where Kenya is an active member.

They are global avenues to forge country to country, country to business as well as business to business partnerships with country marketing and branding objectives to enhance the visibility of country offerings as well as positioning to attract ventures that would enhance foreign exchange.

Why world expos are important is because it is an avenue where Kenya can revitalise her diplomacy by offering visibility in the competitiveness of her culture and heritage including sports, and business opportunities including tourism.

Kenya being a market economy requires more external exposure to enhance foreign exchange and improve her credit rating among others.

One of the continuing economic deterrents for the Country is increasing foreign debt at a faster rate than foreign exchange which otherwise would be used to repay the debts and import bills.

Clearly, world expos being a place where a country can engage all the countries of the world at a go becomes important avenues to execute and deliver on foreign diplomacy.

World expos have been held since the 19th Century where the first of its kind was in 1851 in London with a focus on industries for all nations during the industrial revolution era.

Ever since then, over 69 world expositions have been held Worldwide in all regions except Africa and the Middle East, where it is scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai from October 2021 until April 2022.

The active participation by Kenya was confirmed in May 2018. The World Expo Dubai 2020 with the theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future will remain thus having been postponed to 2021 due to the Covid 19 Pandemic.

The Expo 2020 Dubai is being executed in different ways since its focus delivering a global change through partnerships at the heart of globalisation.

Kenya is among the countries that have been prioritized and supported by the UAE especially in the construction and implementation of pavilion plans.

There are many other countries including in Africa such as Angola who have over the years 2 2 acquired and build their own space to showcase themselves. The Dubai Exposition implementation is anchored on Country storylines appealing to the participants' emotions and not the traditional way in which obviously Countries focus on trade and investments.

There are over 25 million participants expected to participate in World Expo Dubai 2020 pre-during and after the exposition.

Capitalising on success in sporting activities, Kenya sort to champions her showcase by exhibiting the energy of her people while using the same being in the Expo Opportunity District showcase Kenya’s nascent economy and her industrial revolution otherwise anchored in her vision 2030 and the Big four agenda.

With Kenya's aspirations to attain a high middle-income economic status, the Dubai 2020 expo, therefore, becomes an avenue where Kenya will attract the best of the best investors, tourists and buyers of Kenyan goods and services.

UAE and the larger Gulf Cooperation Council provides a lucrative market for Kenya goods and services not to mention the over 200 participating Countries and international organizations where Kenya can enter profitable agreements that would not only position Kenya but also her enterprises particularly the internationalization of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who are the primary focus of the Dubai Expo 2020.

SMEs will be allowed to operate post-2020 expo for two to five years with a view to assist them to gain global footprints to enhance foreign exchange flows to Kenya among the participating countries.

The reason why the Kenya pavilion is a hub for economic as well as cultural diplomacy to stimulate global attention to Kenya’s economic development quest. Kenya has emerged before and after independence as World Leader in sporting activities such as athletics.

Obviously making Kenya known by many Countries and global citizens which is why the introduction of a Kenya Mini Marathon during the 2019 international participants meeting received applause and acceptance into the expo programming as a major activity elevating the expo stature.

It would add value to Kenya if during the Opening Ceremony the Kenya President and a World record holder properly in Marathon will give remarks as well as a Kenya story is showcased at Al Wasl Plaza, a rare occurrence during the Expo in addition to a strong feature during the Kenya day.

It will take a high-level engagement with BIE and UAE to secure the slots. During the Jubilee Administration, Kenya has received global attention owing to the strong leadership by President Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya's number 1 diplomat.

Our culture, heritage and hospitality are another reason Kenya is receiving global attention.

It, therefore, shows that the Kenya story is an easy sale. The Country should therefore capitalise on Kenya's global visibility in deriving maximum benefits from the World Expo Dubai 2020.

The idea is in the Kenya expo storyline once executed through the Kenya pavilion, strategically located near the Al Wasl Plaza and UAE Pavilion, the heart of human traffic, every visitor will be assimilated to be a Kenyan with a lifelong impact.

This way, it will have the potential to position Kenya and attract more visitors, investors, buyers and win Kenya favour among the community of Nations and International organizations that are instrumental in our economic development quest.

At the least cost, Kenya can deliver a show that would help partly in reducing the Country’s trade deficit and debt burden. For Kenya to achieve a great show, up to $.2 million will be required both from both public and private sector investments.

With only 10 months remaining, and with other competing priority Government initiatives, Kenya needs to move with speed in securing a lasting impact in the Dubai 2020 Expo.

Early preparedness would give Kenya an edge even as the World focus has already shifted to Argentina 2023 and Japan 2025 Expositions.

The writer is a former CEO of Kenya Export Promotion Council