American investors set sights on Kenya ICT, agritech sectors

US entrepreneurs, who are accompanied by top Biden administration trade officials for Africa, are in Nairobi for AmCham Business Summit.

American investors are angling for a bigger share of Kenya’s ICT and agriculture sectors as part of a broader US strategy to cultivate closer trade ties with Nairobi.

US entrepreneurs, who are accompanied by top Biden administration trade officials for Africa, are in Nairobi for AmCham Business Summit.

The business people are largely eyeing deals in ICT, agricultural technology, apparel and textiles, the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham)-Kenya disclosed.

Maxwell Okello, the AmCham Kenya chief executive, said ICT is the key focus of US investors because of Kenya’s rising profile as a regional tech hub.

“We see depth in terms of American companies participating in or looking at that (tech) space,” Mr Okello stated the sidelines of the two-day AmCham Business Summit which kicked off in Nairobi on Wednesday.

The Americana firms are looking to put more investment in farming, particularly agritech and modern practices.

The annual event is coming at a time when Washington has revealed its intention to make Nairobi part of its strategy to strengthen its supply chains which were immensity disrupted following Covid pandemic restriction and the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine.

“Supply chain resilience is at the heart of all our trade initiatives including the IPEF [Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity]… and the Americas Partnership,” President Joe Biden’s 2023 Trade Policy to the Congress, published March 1, reads.

“The Administration is also highlighting this issue bilaterally, including with partners like the European Union and Kenya, and in multilateral fora like the G7, G20, and APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation].”

US Ambassador Meg Whitman noted that Kenya, a gateway into the East African region, is increasingly positioning Nairobi as “the premier destination” for technology and innovation investments on the continent.

“It’s an exciting time to be doing business in the region, creating more jobs and promoting US-Kenya shared prosperity,” Ms Whitman said.

“Kenya’s largest export market is the United States. And we feel Kenya is ready for export liftoff as it diversifies.”

Trade between the two countries is fairly balanced with Kenya exporting goods estimated at Sh81.17 billion to the US under the more-than-two-decade-old Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), while buying consignments valued at about Sh93.43 billion in 2022, according to provisional official trade data.

The two countries have planned to hold the second round of talks for the proposed US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership in April in Nairobi after Washington hosted the opening round last February.

“The skill, the entrepreneurship and the hard work of our people is our oil,” Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria told the Summit. “We must remember that Kenya is not just Kenya. Kenya is a gateway to the market.”


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