LEADER

Ruto's Uganda visit fiasco exposes harsh investment environment

Every investor has their own plan and may have their reasons for not choosing Kenya

In Summary

• While it is easy to hit out at DP Ruto for helping an investor set up shop in Uganda, Kenyans must also question the many obstacles that frustrate investment here.

• Dollar billionaire Aziz Rostam gave a heart breaking account of his frustrations when he attempted to invest in gas in 2017. He met the President who welcomed his plan.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda with Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda with Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto.
Image: COURTESY

Deputy President William Ruto’s revelation in an interview on Wednesday that he helped an investor secure Sh15 billion to set up a vaccine factory in Uganda is disturbing.

Of course, every investor has their own plan and may have their reasons for not choosing Kenya. But the country’s second-in-command can’t be seen to be boosting the economy of another country, when his own needs investors to create jobs for the 800,000 Kenyans who hit the labour market each year. It is part of Ruto’s job to market Kenya as an investment destination of choice for global capital.

The DP has been sharply criticised – rightly – for his decision. But, that said, what is the investment climate like in Kenya? During his visit to London last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta invited businesspeople, saying Kenya remains one of the best investment destinations in Africa.

The government often repeats its commitment to improve the ease of doing business here. But during Tanzanian President Suluhu Hassan’s visit in May, dollar billionaire Aziz Rostam gave a heart breaking account of his frustrations when he attempted to invest in gas in 2017. He met the President who welcomed his plan.

“It has taken me three years and I have still not got a response on my investment proposition. A $130 million investment that I was ready to make, I met obstacle after obstacle after obstacle,” he said.

While it is easy to hit out at DP Ruto for helping an investor set up shop in Uganda, Kenyans must also question the many obstacles that frustrate investment here.