The US has pledged to partner with the Kenyan government to find creative solutions to end the row over election dates and the implementation of the new constitution that places Kenya’s economic and political progress at stake.
The US ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration said Kenya’s strategic location has attracted both the East African region as a trade and transport hub and the world in general by attracting international investors. However he said Kenya should feel the urgency of implementing the new constitution to create a conducive environment for international investors.
“With so much to gain, Kenyans should feel a sense of urgency to implement the constitution, to conduct the elections Kenyan people deserve, and to create the business opportunities this country needs,” said Gration during the American Chamber of commerce luncheon.
Gration said with the implementation of the new law, Kenya will be set to attract more investors into the country to boost its economic growth through formation of strong partnerships.
“Successful implementation of the constitution, fair, peaceful, transparent elections, and resolute and visible efforts to fight corruption and impunity are the milestones that will demonstrate Kenya as a reliable and desirable destination for international investment,” he said
Currently the country is in a critical debate over the date of conducting the next general elections with some members of parliament proposing December while others early next year as opposed to August this year according to the law. This is despite the many laws that members of parliament have passed.
Gration noted that the private investment in the small and medium enterprises in Kenya has contributed alot in accelerating growth in the country adding that it will improve on the employment rates, increase education opportunities and raise standards of living if boosted.
At the same time he lamented the fact that many Kenyans are still unaware of the services that have resulted from the partnership between the US and Kenya, despite the country being United State’s fourth largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, He is now calling on the country to be proactive in attracting additional US direct investment.
“How many people know that M-pesa was developed with IBM software, that Procter & Gamble partners with the Kenya government to distribute sanitary pads for girls in the poorer rural areas? How many people know that coca-cola has improved safe water sources for villagers and school children in Kenya? How many of you know that Google offers free website development services for local small and medium enterprises?” he asked.
Other contributions by US companies include CISCO which has been in partnership with USAID to offer education, training, and employment opportunities to the deaf and FedEx flew airplane that supported UNICEF’s relief efforts in Dadaab.
New companies from the US that have expressed interest in investing in the country are Dow Chemical, B.A.E., Marriott, GE, IBM among others.
“These companies have expressed their interest in expanding their presence here since my arrival. I tell them the all the same thing, “this is a great time to be in Kenya,” Said Gration.
With potential of workforce and tremendous opportunity in the county’s energy and transport sector that creates prospects for port expansion and infrastructure development, he said it reflected Africa’s business potential that has made smart companies capitalize on their investments.
“There is no reason that Kenya cannot become a regional leader in ICT given its success in developing innovative applications such as M-pesa, Ushahidi, and I-cow,” added Gration.