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Government launches India-Kenya Business Council

The government is determined to eliminate excesses of bureaucracy, simplify policy regulations, and provide tax breaks to investors, Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry Rebecca Miano has said.

The computerization of all government services is also on course with the aim being to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery, she added.

Speaking when she launched the India- Kenya Business Council (I-KBC) during the Kenya-India 2023 Joint business forum Tuesday evening, the CS said the mix of business leaders from India cover a wide range of sectors in the country.

This includes power and energy, logistics, media and advertising, financial services, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, ICT manufacturing, agriculture, and allied services, cold chain warehousing, and mining.

“It is noteworthy that the Confederation of Indian Industry is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, industry-led, and industry-managed organization with around 9,000 members from the private as well as public sectors, including SMEs and multinational companies and this profile of the confederation presents Kenya with multiple opportunities for both learning and even benchmarking”, she said.

Kenya, she added, has a lot to learn from India even as it surges forth to make the best out of its burgeoning tech ecosystem.

Miano noted that Kenya has been termed as the gateway to Eastern Africa, providing the regional logistics and financial hub, and with India investments in Kenya turn over USD 1.5 billion with India’s pharmaceutical exports playing a key role in abating essential drugs at affordable prices in Kenya. The launch of I-KBC will see the balance of trade between the two countries that is largely today in favor of India.

The government of Kenya, the CS reiterated, is continuously seeking to attract private investment as it seeks to create more employment opportunities for the youth and therefore invited Indian businesses to explore investment opportunities across the country.

“I urge you as investors to steer the course of progress of our two nations, not just in projects, but also in legacies that transcend profit margins and my ministry will be there to support and cooperate with businesses from both sides”, she said

Miano said the I-KBC could not have come at a better time as Kenya is hosting a 3-day Middle East 2023 Expo in the next week that is bringing around 113 exhibitors from nine (9) countries who will exhibit textile technology and engineering products

“There will be networking opportunities to promote Kenya as an investment, business, and tourism destination. Immediately after the Expo, Kenya businessmen will have a high-level Kenya Business Forum in India”, she said.

Kenya and India, the CS emphasized have common values of democracy, resilience and work ethic, a phenomenal partnership running into decades as maritime neighbors defined by a long-standing people-to-people friendship and adorned further by vibrant trade and investment ties.

The cordial diplomatic relations between Kenya and India were established in the early 1960s. In 1983, Kenya and India signed a bilateral trade agreement that provides for the establishment of joint trade committees poised to strengthen and develop economic and commercial relations between the two countries.

Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary affair Vellamvelly Muraleedharan who graced the occasion said India offers an unparalleled business ecosystem for global investors and entrepreneurs.

  India is the home of the world’s largest youth population of over 65 percent being below the age of 35 a distinction to that of Kenya he said the young, dynamic, and skilled workforce is an invaluable asset for any industry, be it manufacturing, IT, services, or entrepreneurship.

He added that one of India’s most ambitious initiatives taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the “digital India” which aims to transform the nation into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, and as a result, the IT and digital sectors have witnessed explosive growth.

“Today, India stands as the world’s largest social destination for IT, accounting for approximately 67 percent of the USD130 million US market. We see potential for Indian companies to collaborate with Kenyan firms, especially in the silicon savannah, to further propel this growth and the Indian government has made tremendous strides in easing the business environment”, Muraleedharan said.

The Minister noted that doing business in Kenya is not only capturing the market of 53 million Kenyans but also reaching out to the whole of East Africa’s over 300 million population.

“Indian businesses are aware that Kenya with its strategic geographical location and robust infrastructure serves as a vital springboard for the East African region. It offers unparalleled access to regional markets, fostering trade and investment. The country’s stable political climate and progressive policies further enhance its appeal as a central hub for business and innovation in East Africa”, he noted.

The Minister who was accompanied by a business delegation of 25 members who represent various sectors including manufacturing, healthcare, infrastructure, ICT, and hospitality said that there are also over 200 Indian companies present in Kenya with sizable investments creating thousands of jobs and contributing to the revenue and growth of the economy.

“The launch of I-KBC will provide a structured platform to all Indian companies to further strengthen their presence and promote Indian investment in Kenya”, Muraleedharan said

The President of Kenya, the Minister said, has taken transformative initiatives that resonate with India’s development goals with top priority areas of the Kenyan government being areas of strength of India and thus these two countries both have opportunities to collaborate.

Principal Secretary in the State Department for Information Communications Technology (ICT) and Digital Economy. Eng. John Tanui said the launch of the I-KBC is a special moment for the country as it strives to enhance both innovation, technology, and the growth of our knowledge economy as a country

“A great partner lies in India for us to work this journey, and we’re looking at enhancing our institutions and connecting so that we can see our institutions also grow in that space. We want to industrialize as a country”, he said

The Cabinet Secretary Investment Trade and Industry Rebecca Miano together with Indian minister for external affairs V. Muraleedharan flanked by other dignitaries, ICT PS Eng. John Tanui, KEPSA CEO Carole Kariuki and Indian High Commissioner to Kenya Namgya Khampa among other business dignitaries during the launch of India Kenya business forum meeting.

On the space of innovation, the PS acknowledged the Indian government which has been running programmes on promoting innovation in the country and also enabling startups.

“As we work on this journey we are looking at how we can deepen our collaboration and from the state of ICT, enhance our connectivity within the country by building an additional 100,000 kilometers of fiber connectivity and believe that India will play a big role by supporting us in contribution of construction considering that many players import raw fiber from India among other materials”, he said

Eng Tanui said they want to connect every part of our country with broadband connectivity in order to unlock global opportunities for the citizens at the grassroots level.

Government digitization since last year up to now has been enhanced, the PS said noting that more services are available digitally and the country has moved from 350 services offered previously to no 3000 that have been digitized and available to the citizens.

“Learning from the great successes that India has achieved, the government looks to unlock more opportunities for its people by building on digital infrastructure and digitizing the government.

Carole Kariuki, CEO of KEPSA confirmed that the balance of trade between Kenya and India is still not balanced and this can only be addressed through investments. “We don’t want us just importing and you exporting’, let us take our partnerships to the next level.

“When we talk about our trade and our trade deficit and our trade imbalance between the two countries, it’s our SMEs that will bridge these gaps. We are to be able to create the value chains that will be able to ensure that that gap is bridged”, she said.

Kariuki explained that SMEs want to trade, they want to do business, but they do not know how to and if we were to establish a program expert in India, which is the journey we have started walking we would be able to through a model such as ‘startup India platform’ help our SMEs.

India is one of the largest trading partners of Kenya and India-Kenya trade relations encompass various sectors of the economy. The current trade volume is to the tune of USD 2.2158 billion (2019-20), out of which Indian exports to Kenya was USD 2.126 billion and import from Kenya was USD 89.62 million.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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