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November 13, 2018

Kenya Is Open For Business

Areal view of the city of Nairobi photo/KARUGA WA NJUGUNA
Areal view of the city of Nairobi photo/KARUGA WA NJUGUNA

A few days ago I uploaded a piece on my Youtube channel that boldly proclaimed “the world is coming to Kenya – are we ready?”. The comments told me that some of us get it and are truly wondering how to position ourselves to deal with the opportunity this presents while others seem totally lost.

I truly believe that after July 2015, we will never be the same again. My question to you this morning is, do we understand the importance of opening our doors to these people and at the same time do we know we should have a sign at the airport saying “Kenya - Open for Business.”

John Authers of the Financial Times ventures that “After centuries dominated by the Atlantic, and then the ascendancies of the Pacific Rim, it is the nations on the rim of the Indian Ocean that could dominate growth for the next generation. The next decade should at last see the ascendancy of India, and the long-delayed rise of East Africa”.

My eye is always drawn to the phrase East Africa. I’m a firm believer that Kenya is the gateway to this part of the world, something that everyone knows – but it seems Kenyans didn’t get the memo.

So let me send out the memo. It is a combination of thoughts and ideas of various people who are well aware that we need to get serious. However they have no means of getting the word out and that’s where I come in. There’s lots of capital waiting to get into Kenya and Africa – an estimated 18 trillion USD or more. Kenya doesn’t have any automatic right to it, we’ll have to work very hard to get it, but what’s new, we are Kenyans – if we set our minds to it, we will do it.

However – we have a major in coming threat from Nigeria, Ethiopia and Dubai. Make no mistake; if Nigeria gets its act together, then our story, even clothed in regional garb, will take second place to this one giant country, with a single economy and set of rules.

Then of course there is Ethiopia which at our heels. The new Africa public health facility following the Ebola outbreak will be based in Addis. It was hoped that we would have housed the centre at Kemri. Except that Kemri got itself embroiled in some stupid, shallow-minded corruption scandal over donor money.

Then there’s Dubai. Hear me out. Dubai is selling itself as the gateway to Africa especially because of ease of doing business and the number of flights through its airport. Don’t believe me? Ask around and find out how many people have headquarters in Dubai for Africa! All major banks are in DIFC for a reason.

We have 24 months tops to dominate the African story, and we must start now – in fact the clock started ticking a month ago.

We are neither short of resources, opportunity, brain power or human capital... and there is too much capital globally looking for what we have. We just need to get organised.

My challenge to all of us as the clock ticks towards July 2015 and beyond is simple. Make it happen.

To Uhuru Kenyatta – declare Kenya open for business and make it so.

To the private sector – push government to do the right thing and give them a plan. Ideas are nice, plans are better. I know, I know…. They never listen – don’t tire. Keep pushing.

To the rest of us – keep your eyes and ears open for those who come knocking for heaven’s sake help them, don’t fleece them. There’s enough for everyone and your job is to help make it happen. Our share of the possible 18 trillion USD and more looking to entire this market is assured – all we have to do is to be willing to open doors, hearts and minds to it.

I’ll conclude with John Authers weighty words “Hope lies in the rising Indian Rim. If India overtakes China and the east African nations at last unlock the potential of sub-Saharan Africa, that would relieve much human pain — and less importantly, would buoy the economies and markets of the rest of the world”.

That’s the memo – don’t ever claim that no one ever told you. Let’s get to work. Kenya is open for business – ama?

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