The trade mission organized by the Sharjah Exports Development Centre, SEDC, affiliated to the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SCCI, concluded "a three-day Sharjah-Kenya Business Forum" held in Nairobi, within the framework of an African tour that included the Republic of Uganda as the first leg last week.
This forum provides a perfect platform to foster even greater interaction of Sharjah business community with their local, regional, and international counterparts in Kenya to push the current bilateral relations to advanced levels, and further promote investment opportunities and business partnership between Sharjah and Kenya, which is the economic, logistic, and trade center in East and Central Africa.
The forum, presided by HE Abdullah Sultan Al Owais Chairman, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, comprised an array of official figures, business representatives and investors of both sides include; HE the deputy U.A.E ambassador to Kenya Mr. Hassan Issa Al-Husni, HE Mohammed Rashid bin Dimas SCCI Board Member, Nasser Mosbeh Al Tunaiji SCCI Board Member, Abdul Aziz Shattaf, Director of SEDC, Saif Mohamed Salim Alsuwaidi, Investment Promotion Manager at Shurooq, Mr. Moses Ikiara Managing Director, Kenya Investment Authority, Mr. Kipprono Kittony(TBC)National Chairman, KNICC, and ambassador DENNIS AWORI the Kenya Private Sector Alliance Foundation Chairman, along with other representatives from the two countries, as well as 15 companies affiliated to Sharjah, representing a wide range of trade and industrial sectors such as food, clothes, wood and steel industries.
Under the directives of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, HE Abdullah Sultan Al Owais Chairman, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry initiated his speech to assert that Sharjah has established itself as a model in potential opportunities in economic and sustainable development hosting 33 per cent of the UAE’s manufacturing sector.
Al Owais said: "Sharjah-Nairobi business forum is a complement to last year two-leg trip to Kenya and Uganda, as part of its dedication to prove its formidable presence in the promising African markets. Moreover, the visit aimed at increasing economic and trade cooperation between the two countries".
He added: "We are here together to take such growth to more diversifications and higher levels. Sharjah’s GDP grew three times from previous levels during the past decade. Consequently, Sharjah witnessed a 3 per cent rise in the number of business licenses working in the emirate during the first half of 2016".
"Since the signing of the Agreement of Protecting & Encouraging Investment, trade volume has been growing between the UAE & Kenya reaching an amount of Dh148 million (US$ 312 million) for exports and Dh1.483 billion (US$ 403 million) for re-exports, making non-oil trade volume reaching Dh2.63 billion (US$ 715 million) during 2015," continued Al Owais.
He provided an overview of what the emirate offers and provides to investors such as a very conveniently central location among other emirates of the UAE, stability and security, motivating legislations and incentives offered by Sharjah along with an international airport with competitive haul itineraries, three deep-water ports, access to both seas; Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman – the gateway to the Indian Ocean, ecotourism, and exhibitions.
Al Owais expreseed his pleasure to preside the delegation participating in "Kenya-Sharjah business forum" as the United Arab Emirates is celebrating its 45th National Day which comes at the same time where two years ago, in November 2014, both the UAE & Kenya marked the signing of their Agreement of Protecting & Encouraging Investment.
Saif Mohamed Salim Alsuwaidi, Investment Promotion Manager at The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) said; “Our visit to Kenya, as part of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) delegation aims to promote investment opportunities in Sharjah and showcase the emirate’s outstanding array of benefits to Kenyan entrepreneurs and businesspersons. Kenya is a central hub for commerce and logistics for the east of the continent.”
“Sharjah’s investment sectors have numerous promising opportunities, particularly in the tourism & entertainment, healthcare, eco-tourism, transport & logistics, education, industry and real-estate sectors. A number of these sectors have established stable and long-term growth rates; others are seeking new investment to meet existing demand. One example is the healthcare sector, which provides only 50% of the services required to meet the actual demand – something that indicates the huge potential of this area,” he added.
“Shurooq will provide Kenyan investors with all the necessary information to explain the benefits of investing "with us and between us in Sharjah" and will address any queries they may have. We look forward to welcoming them to Sharjah at their convenience so that we can give them a personal tour of the emirate so that they can see its multitude of investment advantages first hand,” said Alsuwaidi.
Kenya's Major Partners
For Kenya, Mr. Moses Ikiara Managing Director, Kenya Investment Authority praised trade relationship with UAE being one of the key trading partners.
Mr. Ikiara called upon UAE businesses to venture into the Kenyan market and benefit from the existing and unfolding opportunities offered by the country to foreign investors as well utilizing the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement (TFTA) which comprises of three African economic entities under the umbrella of Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC), as well as The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa ( COMESA) with a population of about 600 million.
"The Kenya Government is actively seeking to partner with investors in major infrastructure development projects including its mega project "LAPSSET", the transport corridor linking Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia as well as attracting investment in the energy, tourism, healthcare, and oil and gas sectors," Mr. Ikiara pointed out.
Mr. Kipprono Kittony(TBC)National Chairman, KNICC said: "Kenya has indeed become an increasingly important trading partner for the UAE. In 2015, Kenya exported commodities worth US$ 297 include: Tea, fruits, meat, and electrical apparatus while Kenya imported goods worth US$922. Imported goods include: petroleum oils, cement, plastics, copper, electrical machinery and apparatus and industrial equipment.
In 2015, Kenya ranked 5th as the largest African economy with a GDP of $61.4 billion, in addition, Kenya placed itself as the 6th largest market in Africa in terms of population of 44.1 million during the same year.
On the sidelines of the Kenya-Sharjah business forum, bilateral meetings between businessmen from Kenya and the UAE have been conducted to showcase their services and products which attracted the Kenyan investors to buy or mediate to have these services and products into Kenya or even invite the UAE part to open new branches of their companies in Kenya.
Marking the UAE National Day
On the sidelines of the forum, the UAE embassy in Kenya marked the UAE's 45th National Day, where the delegation extended their thanks to HE Abdul Razak Mohamed Hadi, UAE Ambassador to Kenya for his efforts to facilitate their mission in Kenya.
Ambassador Hadi underscored the UAE's commitment to promote trade and economic development in East Africa in light of the country's ongoing efforts to provide Logistic infrastructure, and free zones to help African companies engage in the world trade through the UAE.
The last day of the forum witnessed the Sharjah's delegation visit to some industrial and commercial facilities in Nairobi to have a close look at their mechanism of work, services, location, and number of employees, as well as operation costs with the aim of considering the possibility of starting trade, industrial, agricultural ventures or even contributing to upgrading these facilities