2015 has been a year of transformation with great events taking place in Kenya. We saw the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit get hosted on Kenyan soil (the second such summit to be hosted on the African continent ), and in December, the World Trade Organization convened in Nairobi bringing together 7,000 delegates and business notables from around the globe. Both events brought great opportunities for Kenyans, and mega deals were sealed by the big heads of great nations.
The fact that Kenya was able to host the President of the World’s most powerful nation Barrack Obama, and the leader of the Catholic faith worldwide Pope Francis (Pope is also the president of Rome) tells a lot about the country’s stability at the moment.
There was no attempt on any of the leaders’ life while visiting Kenya, no suicide bombings or grenade attacks, no massacres during or after the visits. In a long time, Kenyans experienced high-level security presence during these visits. It went against the expectation of CNN which had named Kenya as a Terror Hot Bed. It badly irritated Kenyans (especially Kenyans on Twitter – #KOT are a force to reckon) and saw CNN losing its broadcasting license in Kenya (CNN formally apologized and sent their big shots to Kenya which saw them get back their license).
The Government took security seriously. For instance: 18,000 law enforcers from different units were deployed for the Obama visit, plus an extra boost of 500 secret service agents from the US. Nairobi got a face-lift and security enhancement with CCTV cameras being installed at every junction within the city.
Numerous trade expos have also been hosted in Kenya throughout 2015 which s
hows that foreign manufacturers find Kenya to be a good market for their products. The market for electronics and electrical equipment is still on the rise right here than anywhere else in Africa.
With Koza and Tatu cities in the pipeline; Kenya is set to be an African Silicon Valley. The ICT sector is thriving, and mobile banking is overtaking bank transactions.
We saw the tourism sector suffer a major blow from 2013 onwards. There were numerous terror attacks in Kenya from the Al Shabaab which shook the country’s economy. The most notable terror attacks included the Westgate mall siege that saw 67 people killed (including foreigners) and the Garissa University College massacre which saw over 140 students murdered in cold blood.
The situation was thought to be so bad such that during a visit to Kenya, the Italian Prime minister was caught on camera by the media wearing a bulletproof vest inside his suit. The UK and the USA issued travel advisories which brought the country’s economy crippling. There was an exchange of words, all of which were amended in due course.
In 2015, the UK renewed contract to have its soldiers train in Kenya and Obama was in the country to host a summit he founded. France, on the other hand, declared Kenya a safe tourist destination for its citizens. The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) also endorsed Kenya as a safe tourist destination. The sector is slowly recovering after seeing hundreds of hotels shutdown in the coastal region and locals losing jobs. Local tourism has also been boosted by the Government.
The political scene has not affected business that much. Apart from the normal hullaballoo we wake up to read on the local dailies, there is political stability. Let’s remember how quick the country recovered after the 2015/2016 post-election violence that claimed over 1400 lives. Investors continue to flock the countries for its many opportunities. The Chinese have heavily invested in the country, and we can now see Chinese citizens on every street, even Gikomba; Africa’s biggest open-air market. This was a place you wouldn’t expect to see a non-African in the previous years.
So yes, Kenya is safe for business. There is enough security and political stability that create the ground for a business environment. The tourism sector is back on track, an oil pipeline connecting several countries is ongoing, a standard gauge railway is being built, roads are still being expanded, oil discovered in the north is almost a ripe fruit, a modern silicon valley underway (did you know that Kenya has the highest number of mobile phone penetration in Africa? Bet you didn’t), and there is an ever-growing demand for foreign investment and products. Kenya has shown that terror and rampant corruption within its Government ranks will not stop Kenya’s advancement towards a first world nation. Recently, the National government declared an all-out war on corruption within its offices (let’s hope they are serious this time round). Without a doubt, Kenya is the right place to invest.
Kenya is, has been, and will continue to be a strategic state in East and Central Africa for a long time to come. It is an inspiration for many surrounding nations and the entrepreneurial spirit found in Kenya is to be envied. Kenyans are a hardworking lot.