M a r k e t N e w s

Kenya: U.S. Top Executives in Nairobi for Business

Posted on : Monday, 15th August 2016

Executives of about a dozen high-powered US businesses are taking part in an investment-prospecting visit to Kenya from Sunday.
The three-day trade mission reflects a growing US corporate determination not to be outpaced in Africa by China.
The tour is organised by the Washington-based Corporate Council on Africa. Stephen Hayes, president and chief executive of that 180-member business association, is leading the delegation, which will also travel to Ethiopia.
Kenya was chosen as a destination for US firms seeking opportunities in Africa because the country is "right now the number-one investment spot in Africa," Mr Hayes said in an interview. "Kenya has a really good business climate," he added, drawing a contrast with Ethiopia's approach to private-sector investment.
In Mr Hayes' view, Kenya has a more open economy, while "Ethiopia has a strong central-planning mechanism." That structure offers advantages to businesses whose operations "fit that plan," but it tends to exclude companies not keyed into the Ethiopian government's framework for growth, he said.
Kenya's leading economic position in East Africa is also an attraction for US companies, added Vicky McPherson, an attorney specialising in project finance. She is joining the tour as the representative of Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm aiming to grow its Africa practice.
"It makes sense to put down roots in Kenya when looking at the region as a whole," Ms McPherson said. "Nairobi is a gateway -- the perfect place to branch out."
Greenberg Traurig, which employs some 2,000 attorneys worldwide, represents US private-equity firms already in Africa. Ms McPherson said some of her firm's clients have interests in agriculture investments.
"We see that as an untapped opening in African markets with Kenya and Ethiopia being a little bit ahead in that game."
Agribusiness is a focus of the current trade mission, along with infrastructure and information technology.
The companies taking part in the Kenya leg of the tour include GSI Group, a manufacturer of grain storage systems; Fayus, Inc., a distributor of African farm products; and Jarvis Products Corp., the world's largest maker of processing tools for beef, pork, poultry and fish.
MasterCard and the Vital Capital Fund, a $350 million private-equity firm with offices in Ghana and Angola, are among the finance entities represented in the Kenya trade mission.

The Rockefeller Foundation is facilitating assessments by 15 US companies, mostly in agribusiness. 

Source : allafrica.com
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