“India can be a strategic partner in Government of Kenya’s Vision 2030 to transform into a newly industrialized middle income country. This is the amazing time for India to partner in this Vision by strengthening our relations in affordable housing, universal healthcare, food & nutrition security, blue economy and manufacturing, which are the priority areas of our government. Kenya accounts for 40% of the GDP of east African economy and it is the gateway to the central, eastern and southern Africa. Kenya has the most stable political and macroeconomic environment. Our Constitution guarantees protection against Expropriation of Property of foreign investors, we have Foreign Investment Protection Act and we are one of the first countries in Africa to enforce protection for minority investors,” said H.E. Amb. Willy Kipkorir Bett, EGH, High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya at an interactive meeting on Trade and Investment Opportunities in Kenya held at WTC Mumbai. The event was jointly organized by All India Association of Industries (AIAI) and WTC Mumbai.

The Ambassador invited Indian real estate developers to invest in affordable housing projects to address the annual shortage of 2.5 lakh housing units in the country. “Government of Kenya offers land to property developers for setting up affordable housing units in urban areas and it is also facilitating mortgage loans for home buyers to address homelessness and eliminate slums. Kenya offers concessional corporate tax of 15% for real estate developers building at least 100 low cost residential units in the country. We are also looking for partnership in scaleable low cost construction technology.”

In her remarks, Amb. Irene Oloo, Deputy High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya, suggested that Kenya cane be the ideal production and distribution hub for Indian companies in Africa as it is the financial, transportation and communication hub in the region. Nairobi is the fintech hub of Africa as it has 100% mobile phone penetration and 40% of its population use internet.

She remarked: “Kenya’s ranking in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business improved from 170 out of 190 countries in 2012 to 56 in 2019. The country was ranked 4th out of 190 countries in ease of access to finance. Kenyan government has introduced single window clearance and digitalization of all government services, apart from a well functioning investor after-care mechanism.”

Pointing to the potential sectors for cooperation, Amb. Oloo highlighted: “Indian companies can invest in textile & apparel manufacturing as Kenya is dependent on imports to meet 90% of demand in this sector. Indian leather manufacturers can benefit from USD 86 million import substitution opportunity by setting up tanning and leather processing units in the country. In the blue economy, Indian firms can participate in deep sea fishing, marine fishing equipments, shipbuilding and other allied sectors. Other areas of potential collaboration are information & communication technologies, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, financial services, renewable energy and construction materials.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Dr. Vijay Kalantri, President – All India Association of Industries, and Chairman – MVIRDC WTC Mumbai, said: “India and Kenya have cherished trade relations for many centuries. The importance of Kenya in our external relations is evident from the fact that it is the first African country visited by India’s External Affairs Minister after the outbreak of the pandemic in June 2021. But the current level of USD 2.5 billion trade volume belies the true potential. We can double this trade volume if both the countries explore business opportunities in mining, oil and gas, agro products, including avocadoes, tea, coffee, etc. WTC Mumbai and AIAI will facilitate exchange of two-way trade delegation to strengthen relations beyond just wildlife tourism to other sectors such as manufacturing, services and agro-processing.”

Dr. Kalantri suggested that India can increase Lines of Credit to Kenya to support two-way flow of trade and investment. “Indian companies can invest in the 10 transit corridor projects identified by the East African Community to strengthen trade within the eastern African region.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Ramavtar Goenka, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Kenya, suggested Indian companies to explore investment in 82 Export Processing Zones, 10 Special Economic Zones and other dedicated zones in Kenya. He remarked, “Kenya can be the gateway for not only Africa, but also to Europe and USA as it is part of the trade agreements with these jurisdictions. The country provides 10-year corporate tax holiday, investment deduction allowance on plant & machinery, exemption from stamp duty, VAT and customs duty on import of goods for eligible investments in these dedicated zones.”

Mr. Ajoykaant Ruia, Vice Chairman, MVIRDC WTC Mumbai, proposed vote of thanks for the event.

Other dignitaries who graced the session were Ms. Sangeeta Jain, Senior Director, AIAI, Mr. Jared B. Mayieka, Trade Counsellor, Kenya High Commission in India, and other officials from the consular service of Kenya in India.

The event was attended by delegates from trade & industry, tech companies, consular corps, financial institutions and academia.