Interview with H.E Mrs. Rose Makena Muchiri, Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya
What has been your personal impression of the Netherlands? How do you experience the Dutch business culture?
Since arriving in the Netherlands, I have had a very good impression of this beautiful country and its people. With Kenya’s foreign policy shifting to a focus on economic diplomacy, it is an opportune time for me to be in a country where our economic and trade relations have been steadily rising. I am pleased that the Dutch people are eager to do business with Kenya and this enthusiasm is shared by the Kenyan people. The trade missions in both directions are a testament to this sentiment. I appreciate that the Dutch business culture is very open, which makes discussions with business people very practical. It is also admirable that Dutch business goes hand in hand with social responsibility.
Kenya has recently rebased its GDP for the sixth time and has now become Africa’s ninth largest economy. Which sectors were the main drivers behind the economic growth?
We are quite proud that Kenya has recently been classified as a middle-income country , after our Gross National Income per capita of $1,160 surpassed the World Bank threshold. This milestone means the Kenyan government will have an easier time accessing commercial loans, as Kenya’s debt ratios will be lowered by the higher GDP figure. The high performing sectors that have been instrumental in driving the economy include agriculture, manufacturing, telecommunication, infrastructure, construction and real estate. We enjoyed a stable macroeconomic environment the past year, as well as low and stable inflation, supported by an improved supply of basic foods, lower international oil prices and lower electricity costs.
In 2008 the Kenyan government launched the development blueprint Kenya Vision 2030. Can you tell us more about Vision 2030?
To ensure the Vision 2030 is achieved, action has been categorised into three key pillars: Economic; Social; and Political. The Economic pillar aims to achieve an average economic growth rate of 10% per annum through 2030. The Social pillar seeks to engender just, cohesive and equitable social development in a clean and secure environment, while the Political pillar aims to realise an issue-based, people-centred, result-oriented and accountable democratic system.
Intra-regional trade was identified as a key strategy to increase social and economic Development. How do you see the work being developed by the East African Communities?
Long standing trade routes exist within the region, thus enhancing intra-regional trade. The member states have been implementing various initiatives, such as strengthening of public institutions and private sector organisations, so as to increase trade in the region. In addition, projects such as the Lamu Port South-Sudan Ethiopian Corridor, which is a multi-sectoral trade network, will increase and simplify intra-regional trade. Airport expansion and re-modernisation across the country will achieve the same. Progress intra-regional trade is also enhanced by the various protocols ratified by the member states, such as the Customs Union Protocol and the Common Market Protocol.
Kenya is an ICT Hub, Nairobi being the epicentre of an increased number of Telecom companies and Technology Start-ups. Which policies were implemented by the government to successfully boost the sector? How can Dutch companies help?
Kenya is indeed an ICT hub, boasting a large number of highly educated and innovative talents. This has been further facilitated by having a stable pro-investment government, as well as the instituting of business friendly regulatory reforms. This sector holds great potential and as such we welcome like-minded Dutch companies to consider spreading their coverage to Kenya. We are glad to already have a key partner from the Netherlands, Philips, which recently opened their research and innovation hub in Nairobi.
What advice would you give to companies interested in expanding to Kenya?
We welcome Dutch investors and partners to take advantage of the favourable conditions in Kenya, such as a solid infrastructure, ideal climate, and a deep pool of educated and skilled manpower. In addition, Kenya’s fully liberalised economy has no restrictions on domestic and foreign borrowing by residents and non-residents. Kenya’s strategic location allows investors to easily access the countries in the region. Dutch companies may want to consider the flagship projects identified under the Vision 2030, which include agriculture, trade, tourism, health, education and housing, amongst others. The government is encouraging public private partnerships for undertaking these projects and as such we welcome the international friends of Kenya.