President William Ruto has invited American technology firms to set up operations and regional offices in Kenya.
He said Kenya has a conducive environment for investments in technology and manufacturing.
The President noted that the Government is pursuing ambitious reforms that will turn Kenya into a regional business hub.
“Kenya is economically stable, entrepreneurial, secure, innovative with a favourable tax environment,” he said.
He added: “We also have a huge pool of skilled manpower, technological expertise, green energy credentials and a gateway for six undersea fibre-optic cables providing reliable data connectivity.”
The President was speaking when he met with executives from Apple (Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook), Microsoft, Google, Intel, Nike, GAP and other investors in San Francisco, United States.
He assured the investors that the Government will carefully consider and address any concerns they may have to boost their confidence in Kenya. President Ruto affirmed the Government’s dedication to propelling Kenya into an African technological hub.
He said Kenya’s robust digital connectivity perfectly aligns with the entrepreneurial drive of its people.
“It is the strategic intent of this Government to support the enhancement of Kenya’s position as the epicentre of African innovation and technological transformation,” he explained. US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, British Robinson, Coordinator Prosper Africa, several investors and captains of industry, attended the forum.
Ambassador Whitman said Kenya is the most stable democracy in East Africa, a regional logistics and leading financial hub, a gateway to the East African market, and a key destination for foreign direct investment and venture capital.
She noted that Kenya has successfully attracted global companies while also fostering innovative local companies that lead in innovation.
“What I see happening has many of the critical components that would make Silicon Savannah a reality,” she said.
Prosper Africa coordinator British Robinson said that the American Government has launched a presidential initiative: Digital Transformation for Africa that seeks to unlock the continent’s e-commerce and digital potential.
She said that this initiative will assist American companies in deal sourcing, vetting, partnership formation and de-risking transactions to ensure their investments come to fruition.
“We are committed to partnering with you all to unlock your business and investment potential in Africa,” she said.
American firms expressed confidence in Kenya as an ideal investment destination.
Microsoft COO Brad Smith said Kenya’s impressive returns on investment positions it as an appealing destination for American venture capital.
He said that Kenya, despite offering solutions with broader applicability to connectivity and energy, remains largely unexplored.
“I think it has not been discovered to the extent it should be explored by the American venture capital community,” he observed.
Smith also said Kenya’s combination of low taxes and a strong commitment to the rule of law significantly enhances its overall competitiveness.
Google CFO Ruth Porat said Google has committed to investing USD 1 billion in Africa to bolster its digital training and innovation initiatives.
“We are part of Kenya/US strategic investment initiative and are willing to collaborate around cloud,” she said.
Visa Global President Oliver Jenkyn said Kenya has played a vital role in enabling Visa to establish a strong presence in the East African market.
He said the organisation has picked Kenya as the only African country to host Visa’s global digital innovation studio.
“Less than a year ago, Visa made a commitment to invest USD 1 Billion in Africa over the next five years and a large portion of that is going to Kenya,” he said.
805 Wine managing member Tony Hail said their investment in Kenya has yielded profitability, igniting their enthusiasm for extending their footprint in the country.
President Ruto also met with executives from Levi Strauss and the Grammy Association.
Microsoft has made a significant impact in Kenya by providing wireless broadband and device recharge facilities to over 1.5 million people in rural areas through a partnership with Mawingu.
The firm also supports African startups, drives AI-driven solutions, and contributes to digital skilling and employment initiatives, showcasing its commitment to advancing technology and innovation in the region.
Google Hustle Academy supports SMEs, having around 1000 graduates celebrated during the 2022 Jamhuri Day.
It has actively contributed to Kenya’s development by granting Sh600 million to enhance connectivity for crucial citizen services and assist in affordable smartphone device creation.
On the other hand, Intel has established an AI Developer Lab at Kenya Technical Trainers’ College to train master trainers for youth AI application development.
Apple, too, is working with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) to enhance the country’s healthcare technology and innovation.