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February 20, 2019

Uhuru witnesses signing of Sh24 billion investment deals in Washington

President Uhuru Kenyatta witnesses the signing of investment deals in the US. /COURTESY
President Uhuru Kenyatta witnesses the signing of investment deals in the US. /COURTESY

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday witnessed the signing of two agreements that will see two US companies invest $238 million worth (Sh24 billion) of projects in Kenya.

The President urged the US government to facilitate the operations of US businesses in Africa.

The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Kipeto Wind Energy Company signed documents to close a $232 million deal for construction and operation of a 100-megawatt grid-connected wind power plant south of Nairobi.

The plant will provide a more reliable source of energy to the national grid.

The second agreement signed during the business executives of leading US companies was a $5 million letter of commitment in financing to expand the distribution network of Twiga Foods and improve food security and agricultural wages in Kenya.

The agreement was signed between Twiga Foods and OPIC, a US government agency.

Kenneth Namunje and Grant Brooke signed for Kipeto Energy and Twiga Foods respectively while Ray Washburne, the President and Chief Executive of OPIC signed on behalf of his organisation.

Addressing the US business executives, President Uhuru assured the executives of his administration’s commitment to remove any hurdle that could impede their operations in Kenya.

“Kenya is open for business and all we want to do is package our partnership in a way that it is mutually beneficial to you as a private sector and the people of Kenya,” Uhuru said.

He said the Big Four agenda projects – pegged on boosting manufacturing to create jobs, food security, provision of affordable housing and universal healthcare coverage – present major opportunities for local and foreign investors.

The BCIU is a US-based organization comprising of 200 member companies.

It helps its members to engage internationally by facilitating mutually beneficial relationships between business and government leaders worldwide.

In manufacturing, President Uhuru said Kenya looks to increase the sector’s contribution from 8.4 to 15 per cent by 2022.

On provision of Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC), President Uhuru said his government looks to roll out innovative health insurance options, set up local pharmaceutical companies, upgrade and manage healthcare facilities and set up specialized treatment centres.

The Monday meeting was the third the President was having with members of the BCIU, the last one having been held in 2015.

“Between 2014 and 2018, Kenya improved its ranking on World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index (DBI) by 56 positions from 136 to 80 and remains on target to get to the top 50 by 2020,” the President said.

The Head of State pointed out that the economy remained buoyant and resilient, registering a 5.5 per cent average growth rate over the last 5 years in spite of a historic presidential election and weathering a major drought in 2017.

US Commerce Secretary Ross and BCIU CEO Peter Tichansky commended President Uhuru for creating a conducive environment for the private sector to thrive in Kenya.

Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs) and Henry Rotich (National Treasury) were among the Kenyan delegation at the business meeting.

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