In a move to strengthen Kenya’s position as the regional business hub, President William Ruto is betting big on a talented workforce as well as tax reforms to attract high-quality investments into the country.
The move is part of the President’s strategies to shore up US investments in Kenya with a view to create job opportunities for millions of unemployed Kenyans.
Data shows that increasing exports of garments have seen the US surpass Uganda as the top export market of Kenyan goods, marking the end of Kampala’s reign as Kenya’s leading buyer of goods made in Kenya. According to official figures, exports to the US surged by 47 percent to reach Sh38.8 billion by June 2022, driven by increasing sales of clothing.
Expansion of US companies
At an investment forum in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Dr Ruto said Kenya’s pool of skilled workers can power the expansion of US companies not only within Kenya but also across Africa.
The President added that his administration is creating an investor-friendly climate, citing the rollout of a pro-business tax regime as a pivotal means to court foreign investments.
“We have also eliminated VAT on exported services and abolished tax on stock-based compensation for employees of start-ups.”
While meeting business executives from tech giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft among others, Dr Ruto noted that Kenya’s investor-friendly environment will foster innovation, business growth, and the creation of opportunities locally.
While on his visit to Silicon Valley, he toured the headquarters of tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft, as part of his government’s aspirations to strengthen ties with the tech industry.
He highlighted Kenya’s opportunities for American technology and manufacturing firms, including its potential as a vital African base for tech, manufacturing, connectivity, infrastructure development, and apparel.
Several tech giants have already made significant contributions to Kenya’s development. Microsoft, through its partnership with Mawingu, is providing wireless broadband and device recharge facilities to over 1.5 million people in rural Kenya.
Chip maker Intel has established an AI Developer Lab at Kenya Technical Trainers’ College, focusing on training master trainers for youth AI application development.
What’s more, Apple has joined forces with the Kenya Medical Research Institute to advance healthcare technology and innovation.
Meanwhile, Google is granting Kes600 million (US$5M) to enhance connectivity for vital citizen services, support the creation of affordable smartphone devices, and assist SMEs through the Google Hustle Academy.
Leading financial centre
President Ruto held talks with industry leaders, including Chief Executive Officers Tim Cook of Apple, Pat Gelsinger of Intel, and Google Chief Financial Officer of Alphabet Ruth Porat.
The US-Kenya Business Roadshow also saw the participation of US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman and British Robinson, Coordinator of Prosper Africa, alongside several investors and captains of industry.
Ambassador Whitman lauded Kenya’s standing as the most stable democracy in East Africa, a regional logistics hub, a leading financial center, and a gateway to the East African market.
Kenya’s growing reputation as a key destination for foreign direct investment and venture capital could foster economic growth, innovation, and sustainable development.
With a vision set on cementing its position as the regional business hub, Kenya continues to make strides on the global stage in pursuit of investors.