I hope you had a wonderful week. First things first, I confirm that I am in London as I pen this blog post. This time round I promise, I won’t tell you about my London escapades. Allow me to tell you about investing in Africa.
Today, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting delegates from at least 21 African countries who are in London attending the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit. This is one of the innovative ways for UK’s impetus to becoming the largest investor in Africa. I kind of like the idea. You want to invest in me, bring me to the table and let’s discuss. Show me what you got and accord me the chance to show you what I have. That way we create a win-win relationship, one that depicts mutual partnership, mutual prosperity and mutual respect.
Being the first meeting, I have followed the conversations on #InvestInAfrica with a lot of interest. It is evident that, this conversation had to happen, now that the ground is set for BREXIT (British withdrawal from the European Union) and the Brits are already planning POST BREXIT. Well, what an excellent time to be in the UK. I haven’t written about this yet, but you can be sure that this is one of those topics that thrill me, more so as a student. At some point, I was tempted to craft my research proposal on BREXIT. When I gathered my pointers, I realized, it was an ambitious idea but with possibilities of hitting roadblocks along the way. I let it go.
A select core of African Heads of State and Government are in London. Other delegates are drawn from government ministries (Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries), government agencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners based in the UK and those representing the UK in various countries, CEOs and business leaders representing the private sector, Non-Governmental Organizations and International Organizations.
For Kenya, I can confirm that President Uhuru Kenyatta is attending the Summit . It’s charming to have him around. For those in the UK, it feels like a time when your father is coming to visit you and you have 1001 stories to tell him, or waiting for a chance to give him a list with names of people who have mistreated you over the months hoping that he will take some action against them. To some, it will be a fearful time, not sure if your boss will be asking for your scorecard. I wonder if this is what the various High Commissioners are feeling? It is a challenging and busy time especially for organizers and advance teams.
Despite all the bustle, hustle and final pressures, I got a chance to meet with Kenya’s High Commissioner to the UK, Ambassador Manoah Esipisu and managed to pick his brain ahead of the #InvestInAfrica Summit. Of course, to him, this summit is about #InvestInKenya. Well, I agree. There is every reason for the UK to consider Kenya as one of the most influential investment partners in Africa. We are Kenya. We are the leaders in Africa, in many ways. Like seriously! Many African countries go to Kenya for benchmarking, on almost everything. Think about our innovative financial systems that include the well-known mobile money transfer, ‘Mpesa’. Did you know that Mpesa works just perfectly even when you are abroad? Now, you know. I still do my mobile banking transactions like I never left Kenya. Anyway, I digress. So, I asked the Ambassador, “why is this Summit so important to Kenya?”
“This is a great opportunity for Kenya to create new partnerships and strengthen existing ones. Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda is our top priority. We are keen in creating opportunities around Food Security, Affordable Housing, Manufacturing and Renewable Energy and of course, Affordable Healthcare. Other areas we are keen in include Education, Infrastructure, Sustainable Finance and Trade. We are interested in stronger trade and investment links,” he said.
Well, as a business hub in the East African region, Kenya has high hopes in commanding the transition to a comprehensive Kenya-UK trade agreement effective June 2021. Imagine, barely a year away.
So I ask again, “From Kenya, who is coming for the meeting?” He informs me that the head of the delegation is the President. There are about 60 confirmed guests, among them business leaders who are funding themselves to attend the summit. The President has a series of meetings lined up, including the launch of the Green Bond at the London Securities Exchange (LSE). This landmark event will be the first-ever Kenyan Green Bond to trade on the LSE. Isn’t this huge for Kenya? I get curious, so I ask, what happens at the launch and what does this mean?
“In 2018, President Uhuru announced plans to move the country to 100% green energy when his term comes to an end, so investment in renewables remains key. This is the government’s plan on sustainable development; therefore, the idea is to help climate change through reduction of Kenya’s carbon imprint while at the same time, creating employment opportunities for its citizens. So, the President will attend the launch of the Green Bond where he will ring a bell at the LSE. The launch is about dual listing of the product and as London is the capital of capitals, there is no better stage to perform on.
The UK International Development Secretary Alok Sharma already launched East Africa’s first “green bond” on the Kenyan securities exchange. The bond will raise funds for Acorn Housing to raise cash to build environmentally friendly houses for students in Nairobi, Kenya. This is indeed a huge milestone in strengthening the relationship between Kenya and the UK,” explained Amb. Esipisu.
You see, I told you we lead in everything. Others follow. Well, it looks like the UK already knows this too well. All other countries in Africa recognise that. But, we don’t shout about it, its more like asking, “But do we say?”
I am so glad to have met my fellow Kenyans attending the summit. It always feels so good to have someone bring you stories from “home.” For those heading back, it was such a pleasure meeting you. I wish you a pleasant journey. Thank you for visiting. Pass my love to our people back at home. I will also be on my way back to Cardiff, immediately after the Summit.
Photos 3-6 Courtesy of @KenyaMissionUK
See you again next Monday, Inshallah. #MyCheveningJourney #IAmChevening