Ambassador Mohamed Gello of the Republic of Kenya in Seoul said that his country was hopeful that Korean businesses will increase their investment in Kenya following the exchange of visits by the Heads of Government of the two countries. Excerpts from the interview follow:
Question: What are the important developments scheduled between Kenya and Korea, including the visit of your Head of State?
Answer: The State Visit to Kenya made by H.E President Park Geun-hye to Kenya from 30th May to 1st, June, 2016 following her invitation by H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta marks an important turning point in relations between Kenya and Korea.
The two Heads of States identified major areas of business development for Kenya and Korea, and explained how the two nations could go about reviving their economic growth engines. They proposed diversifying their cooperation in manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, IT, online government services and in the management of medical supplies and related health care issues.
They also stressed on the importance of expanding economic ties between the two nations during the Kenya-Korea Business Forum held in Nairobi on May 31, during her official state visit to the East African nation. She was accompanied by business executives from over 167 Korean companies.
During the visit, over 20 MoUs were signed. This included an MoU on cooperation on investment and trade, and the development of industrial complexes. With Kenya's human resources and Korea's technology, we will be able to create an industrial complex capable of producing competitive goods for the world market.
The world economy is experiencing difficult times, but if our businesses continue to work closely together and to trust one another, I have no doubt that our two nations will pioneer new markets and discover new engines of economic growth.
Following this visit we are hopeful that Korean businesses will invest in a wide range of Kenyan industries, including energy systems, finance, IT, roads, railways and ports. The Kenyan government will lend its full support to Korean businesses that invest in the Kenyan market to ensure they make profits.
The two Heads of State also discussed current global issues ranging from climate change and its impact to agricultural production and peace and security in the Korean Peninsula and Horn of Africa regions.
It is expected that H.E President Uhuru Kenya will make a reciprocal visit to Korea sometime next year (2017) to further consolidate the growing relations between Kenya and Korea
I must say that H.E President Park visit demonstrates the interest of the Government of Korea to not only Kenya but also to African continent at large.
Q: Who are the Korean companies (other than Jaebeol business groups) actively engaged in the promotion of economic cooperation between Korea and your esteemed country? What are the areas in your country where you want Korean companies to invest and what are the areas where you wish your businessmen to invest in Korea?
A: The following sectors present a high potential for Korean companies to invest in Kenya through either Government to Government, PPP or private sector arrangement; Energy – Nuclear, geothermal, solar and wind energy as well as laying of high voltage electricity transmission lines, manufacturing, road, rail and port construction, development of industrial complexes, mass rapid transportation systems, IT, agribusiness among others.
Kenyan businessmen can also invest in diverse areas in the Korean economy such as IT, manufacture and trade related services in partnership with Korean companies.
Q: What is the volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: The volume of trade between Kenya and Korea has shown a steady growth over the years. However, the balance of trade is skewed in favor of Korea. In 2015, Kenya’s exports to South Korea were valued at KES 1,733,725,918 (USD 17,337,259) while the imports were KES 18,821,905,042 (USD 188,219,050) creating a balance of KES – 17,088,179,124 (USD 170,881,791).
From January to September, 2016 the exports from Kenya to Korea has been 98,184,000 USD and the imports from Korea to Kenya has been 120,578,000 USD. We are optimistic that the trade volumes will continue to grow over the next twelve months considering the increased engagements between Kenya in all sectors.
Q: What are your competitive fields of industry and products attractive to Korea and what are Korean products and services that your country might wish to import?
A: The Kenya Government has embarked on a massive infrastructural development that will enable Kenya to realize its vision 2030 of being a middle income country with a sustained growth rate of 10%. The competitive fields of industry where we encourage Korean companies to invest in Kenya are: energy, IT, road, rail and port construction, mass rapid transportation systems, manufacturing, and agribusiness. Kenya’s top export commodities are: Coffee, Tea, Horticultural Products, Petroleum Products, Fish, Cement, leather and textiles.
Q: Please introduce your Head of Government in detail, including achievements.
A: H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's founding father and first President (in office 1964–1978). He joined politics in 1997. In 1999 President Daniel arap Moi appointed Uhuru to chair the Kenya Tourism Board. He was nominated to parliament in 2001, and subsequently appointed to the cabinet as Minister for Local Government.
In 2002, he run for President but lost to former President Mwai Kibaki. He conceded defeat and took up an active leadership role as Leader of the Opposition. He supported Kibaki for re-election in the December 2007 presidential election and was named Minister of Local Government by Kibaki in January 2008, before becoming Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade in April 2008 as part of a coalition government.
Subsequently Kenyatta was appointed Minister of Finance from 2009 to 2012, while remaining Deputy Prime Minister. He ran for President in the elections held on 4 March 2013 and garnered 6,173,433 votes (50.03%) out of the 12,338,667 votes cast. As this was above the 50% plus 1 vote threshold, he won the election in the first round.
Achievements: President Uhuru Kenyatta has carried out important constitutional reforms, including a shift to decentralized government that promises greater transparency.
Deregulation, privatization and infrastructure upgrades are on going
Investments have lifted the economy, helped by rising household incomes from growing urbanization
Kenya’s GDP is currently growing at 5.5 annually while inflation has steadily declined 5.2
In addition, Kenya has fully embraced the opportunities afforded by technology in enhancing financial inclusion. This country now boasts the highest share of population with access to financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa (more than 70 percent).
What does this mean practically speaking? It means that millions of Kenyans who were previously outside the financial system now have a stake in the economy. The younger generation, in particular, has been increasingly empowered to take advantage of new opportunities.
Q: What are the attractive tourist destinations of your country?
A: Kenya is renowned worldwide for its prime and diverse tourist attractions.
Kenya is the land of the original ‘Safari’. Kenya is famously referred as “the Wildlife capital of the world”. It has captivated everyone who has experienced it, royalties, presidents, celebrities, and millions of other holiday makers.
23 national parks and 28 game reserves including: Tsavo, Mt. Kenya, Maasai mara, Shaba, Samburu and Amboseli. We also have 6 Marine Narional reserves, 4 marine national parks and national sanctuaries.
Best safari time all year round and for game viewing – July to September for the great wild beast migration
Kenya is a land of unrivalled scenic splendor. We have picturesque landscapes; The Great Rift Valley, the snowcapped Mount Kenya and numerous tropical forests, rivers, lakes and coastal beaches
Famous places to visit include: Nairobi, Naivasha, Nakuru, Nyeri, Mt. Kenya, Olpejeta, Diani, Watamu.
Kenya has rich and diverse cultures with over 42 linguistic communities. Kenya is both a linguistic and cultural melting pot – home to people of all races, creeds, colours and language groups.
Happy and pleasant people. Welcoming: Jambo (Greeting) Hakuna matata (No worries). Kenya is also known for its beautiful golf courses and our athletes are world champions.