• Government and business leaders will join innovators, entrepreneurs and investors in London, to discuss investment opportunities and future partnerships in Africa.
• UK-Africa Summit is an opportunity to build partnerships and generate more private-sector investment into Kenyan companies,
On January 20, the UK government will host the first UK-Africa Investment Summit.
Government and business leaders will join innovators, entrepreneurs and investors in London, to discuss investment opportunities and future partnerships in Africa. At least 16 African leaders, from the continent’s biggest economies, including Kenya, are expected to attend.
Increased private sector investment in Kenya will make a real difference; increased investment means more jobs and opportunities for Kenyans. An estimated one million Kenyans are entering the workforce every year. During my first few months here, I have had the privilege of meeting with young Kenyans from across the country. These ambitious young people — the face of the next generation — speak to me about their hopes for the future of their country. More jobs are integral to them achieving their goals.
Over 200 British businesses are operating here. Those businesses are creating quality jobs; an estimated one in 10 Kenyans employed in the formal sector works for a British company. They are also developing Kenyan talent, matching strong performance with new opportunities.
Through their social impact policies, British companies are giving back to their communities, supporting teacher training, providing wholesome school meals, nurse training and water provision. British firms are also working hard to minimise their impact on the environment. EABL has invested Sh22 billion to move to renewable energy at their brewery in Kisumu, and Unilever are now producing 70 per cent of the power they use on-site at their tea plantation in Kericho, through a combination of solar and hydropower.
I am committed to supporting the flow of more high-quality British investment into Kenya. More British businesses are setting up here every year, and next week’s summit will help that number grow, showcasing opportunities in Kenya to an even wider audience.
But the summit isn’t just about showcasing Kenya and encouraging more British businesses to invest in Africa. It is also an opportunity to build partnerships and generate more private-sector investment into Kenyan companies, at various stages of growth. The UK has a huge amount to offer ambitious African firms and we have a strong reputation for quality, integrity and reliability. Home to the world’s major investors, regulators, innovators and multinational businesses, the City of London is the global financial gateway for investment and expertise. Greater engagement and investment from the city could be transformative; the summit will connect businesses and investors, building future partnerships.
Realising the ambition behind the summit — an enhanced investment relationship between the UK and African nations — also requires commitment and action on the part of Governments.
The UK government is working in partnership with Kenya to create the right business environment for increased investment, including in support of the Big Four agenda. Our Trademark East Africa programme has supported the development of more efficient and higher quality roads and ports, making it easier to move goods around the region.
Our 10-year Invest Africa programme is working to generate more Foreign Direct Investment into the manufacturing sector, to create jobs in growth areas such as garment factories and raise billions in new manufacturing investment. Through our Sustainable Urban Economic Development programme, we are also working with the national and county governments to create the right conditions for increased investment into 19 urban centres across Kenya.
We’re also supporting entrepreneurs and innovators to grow their companies, and become investor-ready. Through our UKaid programmes, we’re supporting research and innovation, helping entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level, and supporting an ecosystem here in Kenya which gains strength from diversity and partnerships, enables scale-up of good business ideas and attracts investment. Next week we will take some of Kenya’s brightest and best entrepreneurs to London for the summit, where they’ll be able to showcase how they’re developing local solutions for local challenges.
Monday’s summit is an important milestone for the UK’s relationship with Kenya, and is an example of the modern strategic partnership between our two countries.
We believe that a strong, diverse private sector is key to unlocking Kenya’s economic potential and creating the jobs and opportunities Kenyans tell us they want. Foreign investment will help realise that vision, and we’re committed to working with Kenya to attract it, using opportunities like the UK-Africa Investment summit to showcase what this country has to offer.
Marriott is the British High Commissioner to Kenya