•The facility has already attracted over 16 investors, setting the base for job creation and revenue to the government.
•It is expected to further boost Kenya’s manufacturing capacity and increase potential for exports.
The Naivasha Special Economic Zone will create over 100,000 jobs when fully operational, the government has said, as it extends preferential terms to investors at the facility and other similar installations.
President William Ruto is tomorrow expected to launch a power sub-station and issue special economic zone enterprise licences to six investors at the Naivasha SEZ, which will immediately open up job opportunities for over 3, 000 Kenyans.
The Naivasha SEZ sends a clear message that the country is open for business, State Department for Investment Promotion Principal Secretary, Abubakar Hassan, has said.
The facility, he said provides first-world infrastructure and bureaucratic and administrative efficiency at globally competitive prices and it is geo-strategically located.
It is also within proximity of cheap sources of renewable energy and modern transport infrastructure that is linked to landlocked countries in Eastern Africa, either by rail or road.
Speaking during an interview, the PS said the Naivasha SEZ provides a wider market access through its economic and trade cooperation that will provide massive employment opportunities to Kenyans in areas of paper products, green energy, glass, iron and steel hence booting the economy.
“The Naivasha SEZ will create over 100,000 jobs once it is fully operational. It is expected to improve livelihoods and boost the country’s economy as a result of its administrative, fiscal and investment opportunities that enhance the country’s economic outlook, as well as its market access to trade for both local and global investors,” the PS said.
He said they chose Naivasha for the economic zone due to its serene enabling investment environment with enough land capacity for about 1,000 acres, where investors can acquire long term leases.
Being close to the geothermal fields, it is also strategic for affordable electricity access where investors will enjoy power at tariffs of as low as Sh5 per kilowatt hour.
The SEZ is also strategically within proximity of the Standard Gauge Railway, which makes it easy to move goods to the Port of Mombasa for export, and bringing in raw materials.
“Another thing is that the area is central so it will be easier to transport the products to Eastern Africa countries,” PS Abubakar said.
He added that 16 investors responded to expression of interest advertised last year.
The investors, he said, have indicated that they will invest over Sh16 billion, with the government opening up more special economic zones which have a huge investments potential to transform Kenya.
Apart from Naivasha, there are three other flagship economic zones within the country which are Dongo Kundu SEZ (Mombasa) , LAPPSET SEZ (Lamu) and the Konza Technopolis SEZ, which are key in transforming Kenya through implementation of the Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).
“All the economic zones are a game changer to the government and the people of Kenya as the government will open doors to all private and public investors, hence creating employment opportunities and promoting the country investments brand globally,” the PS said.
Special Economic Zone Authority CEO Kenneth Chelule said is open for business and that there is huge potential for investors to invest through the special economic zones.
“In the last year, President William Ruto has personally championed and mainstreamed the Special Economic Zone Programme. We have begun to see an influx of investment. I envisage a future in which we will need to build more zones to accommodate investors flocking to Kenya, “ Chelule said.
He disclosed that the process of getting a licence to operate in an SEZ has been simplified, and procedural, administrative, and fiscal incentives have been enhanced.
“The idea is to attract many quality investors who can create as many opportunities,” he said.
Chelule additionally said that the country is endowed with abundant agricultural and natural resources, providing ample opportunities for value addition.
“The SEZA has identified agro-processing, blue economy, petro-chemicals, auto industries, and mining as areas for investors to invest in. Kenya is open for both foreign and domestic direct investments”, he said.
Some of the first investors at the Naivasha SEZ include Jumbo AAA SEZ Ltd which will be trading in motor vehicles parts and equipment.
It has invested Sh226.9 million at the initial stages and is expected to create 180 jobs once operational on a 10-acre space allocated by the government.
Ceylon Energy SEZ, an integrated factory for the manufacture of low to high voltage overhead line fittings and transmission will invest $6.7 million (Sh1.1 billion) and will create about 374 jobs. They have been allocated 5 acres of land.
Horizon SEZ Ltd, manufacturer of glass bottles and glass products with an anticipated investment of $80 million (Sh12.7 billion) is expected to create 180 jobs. It has 10 acres for investment.
Motors SEZ limited on the other hand will assemble electric vehicles at the SEZ where it has been allocated two acres, with an anticipated investment of $10,000,000 (Sh1.6 billion). It is expected to create about 267 jobs.
Warehouse and inventory management firm-Africa Global Logistics SEZ is expected to invest $2 million (Sh3.3 billion) on 15-acres, with the potential of creating more than 1,500 jobs, according to the government.
Accurate steel SEZ limited which will deal in manufacturing of steel elements is anticipated to invest $12 million (Sh1.9 billion) on a 10-acre land.
Energy PS Alex Wachira has since assured investors of stable power supply.
“The Special Economic Zone will be adequately supplied with stable, reliable, cheap, green energy to help power commercial industries and other clients who set up at the SEZ,” PS Wachira said.
Government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura said Kenya has emerged as the number one recipient of start-up capital in Africa as ranked by ‘big ideas’ in their 2023 survey.
The country was able to attract over $800 million (Sh127.2 billion) in venture capital.
“This means that the country is doing very well in terms of enhancing a conducive business environment towards improving foreign direct investments,” Mwaura said.
The Kenya Kwanza administration has set a target of raising over $10 billion in FDIs, in the medium-term.
“The Special Economic Zones such the one in Naivasha thus crystallizes all the government incentives for a foreign investor into a one stop shop, complete with all the needed amenities such as cheap power and tax holidays, over and above other infrastructural installations,” said Mwaura.
He noted that the economy has grown by 5.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2023, a clear indication that the country is moving in the right trajectory.
“In fact, we have been ranked as the 29th fastest growing economy and the third in receiving remittances globally by the World Bank. We urge investors out there to come and invest in the special economic zones in order to gain from what Kenya has to offer,” Mwaura said.
Meanwhile, PS Abubakar has said the government has plans to have Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) facilities constructed in all constituencies, to prepare the youth for employment in the economic zones.