The County Government of Nakuru has entered into collaboration with the United States of America to promote trade and investment opportunities within the devolved unit.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui said his administration will provide an enabling environment and incentives for the private sector to negotiate strategic partnerships with US firms in key areas such as textiles, agribusiness and food processing.
“Under the partnership we will be courting experienced US firms to help local industries improve the manufacturing value chain to become more competitive in the global market. The emphasis here should be to increase exports of processed agricultural products that earn more foreign exchange than raw commodity exports,” said the governor.
Nakuru is one of the eight devolved units selected under Prosper Africa Initiative to increase two way trade and investment between Kenya and the United States of America at county level through US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Kinyanjui said the core of the new found relationship would be expanding opportunities for economic growth and creating jobs for the youth.
Other counties set to benefit from the Prosper Africa Initiative, include Isiolo, Kakamega, Kiambu, Kisii, Kisumu, Makueni and Mombasa.
The governor said through the collaboration, the county intends to partner with the American Chamber of Commerce to strengthen commercial cooperation, catalyze business to business linkages, and strengthen the capacity of both U.S. and Nakuru County businesses, including Small and Medium Enterprises, to participate in available market opportunities.
The Country already enjoys significant trade volumes, standing at an average of Sh.100 billion with more than Sh.40 billion worth of exports to the US under Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The USAID Mission Director, Mark Meassick observed that the United States and Kenya held the second meeting of the US-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group in November last year.
The Working Group, established by President Donald J. Trump and President Uhuru Kenyatta, is exploring ways to deepen the trade and investment ties between the two countries and lay the groundwork for a stronger future trade relationship.
The USAID Mission Director said through the initiative the United States Embassy will promote investment opportunities available in targeted counties to its citizens and that the US Development Finance Corporation will partner in mobilizing US investments in the eight counties.
The collaboration will enable USAID to utilize its networks in supporting workforce development, policy formulation and select public investments in key sectors including agribusiness, tourism, manufacturing, technology and health.
Meassick said The Prosper Africa initiative reflects the U.S. government’s belief that open and transparent economies should determine the future of African countries.
He explained that the initiative will focus on synchronizing the efforts of U.S. government agencies to facilitate more deals between U.S. and Kenyan businesses and to address trade and investment barriers.
“The US recognizes that Kenya is a vibrant economy and critical trade partner. Kenya is already playing a pivotal role in the global economy.
USAID’s new policy is to end need for foreign assistance by transforming the relationship between the public, civil society and private sectors to generate opportunities for all Kenyans. Investors and businessmen in Kenya can access the US consumer market of more than 300-million people with a purchasing power of 13-trillion dollars– the largest in the world,” Meassick said.
The Prosper Africa Initiative will boost capability for two-way trade and investment between US and Kenya through Counties and facilitate transactions by coordinating US government agencies to help facilitate, accelerate and lessen the risk of transactions between American and Kenyan firms and investors.
It will further focus US agencies’ support to Kenya’s County partner governments, helping them identify and address policy, regulatory, capacity and logistical barriers to private sector trade and investment with the goal of fostering business climates that are mutually beneficial for the US and Kenya.
Meassick said USAID had been driven to intervene after noting that counties were experiencing challenges to promote private sector growth within the devolved units.
“While Kenya’s 2010 Constitution devolved authority to counties for planning, financing and implementing their own development we noted that they had weak capacity to identify viable investment opportunities and markets.
This has been complicated by lack of consensus between private-public sectors on which policy reforms are required to spur greater growth and investments. There has been lack of forums and tools to review prioritize and develop policies that are likely to improve the local enabling environment and attract investment” he observed.
“We will also provide to the eight counties a funding opportunity for consortia of county level business associations, firms and county governments to make evidence based and pro-growth economic policies. The US Foreign Commercial Service will promote opportunities to US businesses.
The USAID will screen, vet and promote investment opportunities in the targeted counties.
By Anne Mwale