Kenya is transforming itself into a powerhouse of the future and has identified several growth areas to enable it to do so.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke exclusively to CNBC Africa sharing his views on where these growth sectors are. He was speaking ahead of the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which US President Barack Obama will co-host in Kenya as part of his fourth presidential trip to sub-Saharan Africa. The summit draws business owners, educators, policymakers and investors together to support the growth of new enterprises in developing regions.
Kenyatta highlighted that only 40 per cent of Kenyans are connected to electricity. This presents a huge opportunity in the market as many more Kenyans remain “eager” to be connected.
“We as a country have put in clear policy measures that are encouraging people to take advantage of our geothermal potential, our wind potential and connecting to assist us in generating. We have an ambitious 5000 megawatt agenda,” he said.
Kenyatta revealed to CNBC Africa that there is big private sector investment going up in Marsabit, a town situated in the northern part of Kenya, to put up the biggest windfarm in the African continent. The President said this will take advantage of wind as a mechanism to power the country.
“There is a ready, waiting, hungry market for this energy. All we need now is to link with the private sector, “Kenyatta reiterated.
With access to credit still identified as the most significant barrier to young entrepreneurs in Kenya, the president said, “Kenya has a very solid base of young entrepreneurs, young innovators, what we are doing is trying to link them with [established] entrepreneurs to see how that capital can be supportive to these start-up companies" and government is creating an enabling environment to allow this to blossom.
Kenya still experiences challenges regarding no tariffs for inter-Africa trade, however Kenyatta assured that East Africa as a whole has been working tirelessly over the last two years to remove obstacles to trade and investment.
“We have made tremendous progress… For example two years ago it used to take 21 days to move a container from Mombasa to Kampala. Today it takes less than two to three days, “he said.
Kenyatta spoke to the mentality shift that is demanded of African governments saying, “Our people who live right on the borders trade with each other freely.
"We as the governments are the ones that need to adapt by realising that even our social problems lies in being able to tap into the ability of our people to trade with each other," he substantiated.
This has the potential of baiting foreign investment. Kenyatta said investors may at times not be attracted to the population and market base of only 40 million people. However, as soon as borders are opened up to 220 million people, there’s a better conversation of investment.
“Governments are now realising that great scope for meeting our socio-economic agenda exists where we remove barriers to trade.”