OPPORTUNITY

Kenya keen on Sierra Leone's dairy sector as it fronts SEZs

The two countries have signed 7 MoUs.

In Summary

•Yesterday, ministries, agencies and the private sector players met for consultation on potential areas of investment.

•The Western African state outlined tax incentives as it urged Kenyan investors to tap unto its agriculture sector, fisheries, tourism, mining and manufacturing.

Industrialization, Trade and Entreprise CS Betty Maina speaks during the Kenya-Sierra Leone joint business forum in Nairobi, on May 31/KEPSA/TWITTER
Industrialization, Trade and Entreprise CS Betty Maina speaks during the Kenya-Sierra Leone joint business forum in Nairobi, on May 31/KEPSA/TWITTER

The under-developed dairy sector in Sierra Leone is among Kenya’s top targets as the two countries improve trade and investment ties under a number of agreements.

The State visit to Kenya by President Julius Maada Bio, accompanied by a  delegation of government officials and the private sector, has seen at least seven Memorandums of Understanding signed.

This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta and his visiting counterpart led their respective delegations in bilateral talks at State House, Nairobi, on Monday.

They pacts include the establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation and MoUs in Political and Diplomatic Consultations, Trade and Investment, Cooperation in the Field of Wildlife Tourism, Gender Equality and Women Empowerment, Cooperation in the Field of Culture and Arts, and Cooperation in the Field of Youth Affairs.

Yesterday, the Sierra Leone government officials led by Chief Minister Jacob Saffa met their Kenyan counterparts led by Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise CS Betty Maina for further consultations, with each country pitching its potential investment areas.

The Western African country outlined a number of tax incentives as it urged Kenyan investors to tap unto its agriculture sector, fisheries, tourism, mining and manufacturing.

CS Maina listed the dairy sector, ICT, financial services and tourism as among areas Kenya is keen on.

“We have identified the areas of interest in Sierra Leone…dairy is a sector that Kenya is extremely proud of. It is one sector that we believe we are self-sufficient in production and distribution of our products, and that is an area that Sierra Leone would like to learn from us,”she said.

Incentives being extended by Sierra Leone for investments in its agriculture sector include income tax exemption and duty-free importation on machinery, inputs and earnings.

In manufacturing, any new business investing a minimum of $2million (above Sh200 million), and employing at least 20 Sierra Leone citizens, shall be eligible for a corporate tax relief not exceeding five years.

It shall also be eligible for duty-free importation of equipment and machinery for establishment of a new business for a period of fiver years.

It also offers withholding tax relief on credit facilities used in investing in the country.

“We have numerous tax incentives and exemptions that makes Sierra Leone attractive for investors,” the country’s Chief Minister Jacob Saffa said.

Edward Sandy, Minister for Trade and Industry, said the country is offering investors a market of 8.1 million persons (population), and creates an opportunity for investors to tap into the larger West African market.

“Lets take a look at the bureaucratic bottle-necks that normally slowdown investments in each country, and see how we can make it easy to invest,” Sandy said.

Meanwhile, Kenya has fronted its Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Export Processing Zones (EPZs), which comes with incentives, as it calls on Sierra Leone investors to put their money in the country.

The country is offering a 10-year corporate tax holiday, 25 per cent for next 10 years and 30 per cent thereafter, for investments in EPZs.

Other incentives are 10-year withholding tax holiday on remittances to non-residents, 100 per cent investment deduction allowance on building and machinery, exemption from payment of stamp duty on legal instruments and exemption from VAT and customs import duty on raw materials and machinery.

On SEZs, Kenya is offering a 10 per cent corporate income tax exemption for the first 10 years, 15 per cent for the next 10 years and 30 per cent thereafter.

Other benefits include exemption from stamp duty and Import Declaration Fee.

The supply of goods and taxable services to an SEZ is also perpetually exempt from VAT, and there is a 100 per cent investment deduction allowance on building and machinery.

“I would like to assure our brothers and sisters from Sierra Leone that Kenya is also open and safe for doing business..,we also welcome investors,” CS Maina said.

Currently, the country has 82 gazetted EPZs where 77 are privately owned and operated while five re public zones, according to the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest).

The number of gazette SEZs is 15 gazetted, where 12 are privately owned and operational while three are public zones (under development).

“KenInvest is ready to support investors tap on these opportunities, “acting managing director Olivia Rachier said, adding the authority is a One Stop Shop for investors, which it makes it easy to process all the requirements at minimal timelines.

The two countries are banking on the renewed ties to improver trade which is currently low with the balance of trade at $688,000 (Sh80.4 million).

This is on an export value of $957, 000 (Sh111.8 million) for Kenya and an import value of $269 million (Sh31.4 million).

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