Bernard Gitau @benagitau
Kenya and US governments yesterday signed trade deals worth Sh10 billion covering the public and private sectors and mostly leaning towards the Big Four agenda.
US Under Secretary for Commerce Gilbert Kaplan led a 60-member American delegation to the bilateral conference organised by the US Chamber of Commerce.
“American and Kenyan private sectors should take advantage of the opportunities presented by my administration Big Four development blueprint to invest in the country,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta who witnessed the signing of the trade deals at the ongoing US-Kenya Trade Conference in Nairobi.
The President particularly outlined the immense Big Four opportunities that exist in manufacturing, food and nutrition, affordable housing and provision of universal healthcare.
“Given our long and well-established relationship, we can do more together. I invite US companies to walk with us on the Big Four journey,” said President Kenyatta.
Undersecretary Kaplan said that the US was committed to supporting Kenya’s Big Four agenda by attracting American investments into the country noting Kenya’s business environment had improved remarkably under President Uhuru.
Among the many agreements agreed upon include a $20 million (Sh2 billion) deal between the Kenyan government and American firm Medtronic for a dialysis centre whose scope will cover strengthening specialised medical services in the country.
Others include a partnership agreement between Rendeavour and Unity Homes for the construction of 1,200 affordable homes in Tatu City in Kiambu County worth $40 million(Sh4 billion), a $10 million (Sh1 billion) credit line from World Business Capital, a global small and medium enterprise financier, to Victoria Commercial Bank, a projects and investments financing arrangement between USAid Power Africa and the Kenyan Government designed to enable Kenya achieve its objective of ensuring universal electrification by 2022.
The USAid Power Africa-Kenyan pact framework will enable Kenyan power sector utility and infrastructure institutions covering Kenya Electricity Transmission Company, Kenya Power and the Energy Regulatory Commission to access financing for their projects.
President Kenyatta also witnessed the signing of an agreement between the US Trade and Development Agency with the Kenya Tea and Development Agency (KTDA) to undertake a feasibility study for a solar and battery storage project. The solar and battery storage project, when developed, will provide KTDA, which is a global exporter of black tea, with around 30 megawatts of reliable electricity, while also reducing operating costs at its tea factories.
Further, the President oversaw the signing of agreeement by leading US energy company for supply and commissioning of East Africa’s largest off-grid solar and battery system.
The 1,260 kWh battery system will be installed at the Serena Safari Lodge in the Amboseli National Park.
The US ranks as Kenya’s seventh largest trading partner with overall trade standing at Sh104 billion for the year 2017. It is also Kenya’s third leading export destination at Sh47.27 billion.
During the conference, being held at the expansive UN Complex in Gigiri, the US delegation and their Kenyan hosts are expected to deliberate and establish mechanisms for improving Kenya-US trade which is currently in favour of the US.