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Following Theresa May’s maiden visit to Nairobi yesterday after a 30-year hiatus by a sitting British Premier, investment in security featured prominently among promises made. While expressing the special relationship that Kenya shares with the UK Theresa May commented that “Indeed it is here that our Monarch learned she would become queen. ” UK already hosts a training ground for British troops in Nanyuki as well as about 100 British companies that operate in Kenya valued at £ 2.0 billion.
Theresa May started her Africa leg tour in Cape Town South Africa where she indicated Britain’s desire to be the biggest investor in Africa among the G7 countries by 2022 turning the billions of British investments into trillions in African businesses led by the private sector. The Guardian also reported that grants would be channeled to the new Kenya Catalytic Jobs funding startups and other technology ventures that have the potential to create high numbers of jobs.
British Billionaire and Investor Sir Richard Branson represents the top echelon of private tourists that visit Kenya unannounced. Indeed Kenya attracts thousands of tourists each year going to the coastal town of Mombasa as well as the world famous Maasai Mara, Mount Kenya, and other prized tourist destinations. Tourism and Horticulture contribute significant foreign exchange for Kenya while these key industries support vast sub-economies from the farmers who supply vegetables to the hotels to the drivers and tour guides that take the tourists around as well as staff that is employed to cook and clean and make their stay comfortable and memorable.
Security is therefore paramount as any breach endangers not only Kenyan residents but the thousands of foreigners that visit, live and work among them. Cybersecurity investment not only goes into further reducing the risk of terror in Kenya from external hostilities but also to protect vulnerable families from pedophiles who visit as tourists and use computers and internet networks to lure and violate young children. The cybersecurity centre will be based in Kenya’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit set up by UK’s National Crime Agency.
Theresa May and Kenyan Scouts – image credit Brits in Kenya
Britain has had a long history of trade and investment in Kenya buying mostly cut flowers, tea, fruits and vegetables that are sold across UK retail chains as well as provide Kenya with development aid that goes into education, technical support, security, and finance. Kenya’s paper currency is printed by a British Security Printing company De La Rue while the Land Rover Discovery remains a prized motor possession on Kenyan roads. Standard Chartered and Barclays have already established brands in the Banking and Financial services sector. The Auditing industry is heavily skewed in Britains favor with PWC, Deloitte, Ernst, and Young as well as Grant Thornton controlling nearly all the audit contracts of Blue Chip companies. British investment in Kenya is also going in the real estate sector with the second largest mall in Kenya Garden City being supported by Actis fund. Tullow oil has been instrumental in the discovery and drilling of oil in Turkana which is located in nothern Kenya almost 700 kilometers away from the capital.
British Education both at a secondary school level and higher education at University and MBA is highly regarded in Kenya with several private secondary schools offering the British IGCSE and A-Level system from early years up to pre-university with thousands of Kenyans proceeding to the UK for further education. Britain also offers Chevening Scholarships to Africans pursuing Masters degrees in the UK. Last year many Kenyans watched in wonder and amazement when a 15-year old Sarah Ikumu living in Milton Keynes made it to top 3 in the popular ITV edition of Britain’s Got Talent 2017 testament to Kenya’s promising foray in the entertainment industry.
Responding to questions from the press, Theresa May made assurances that Kenya’s trade links would not be affected by Brexit since arrangements are in place for duty-free and quota-free access to the British Market. President Uhuru Kenyatta, on the other hand, implored Theresa May to visit Kenya many times when she goes on holiday and enjoys the warm weather as much as she does other destinations.
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