US official announces business partnership with Kenya

nairobi, kenya — About 1,300 delegates and 400 companies participated in the fourth American Chamber of Commerce summit in Nairobi, Kenya, where Kenya’s president William Ruto says his country is ready for business — and means business.

“The 2024 summit’s theme — catalyzing the future of U.S. East Africa Trade and Investment intentionally — draws on the previous edition to develop a strategic platform for commercial advocacy, which will strengthen bilateral trade between Kenya and the U.S., as well as between our region and the U.S.,” said Ruto.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo participated in this year’s summit — which ended Thursday — saying it’s not enough to state the intentions of the United States to invest more and collaborate with Kenya.

“You also have to show up and that’s why I am here,” she said. “And when we show up, we also have to listen and learn.”

Raimondo announces US-Kenya partnership

In her first official trip to East Africa, Raimondo reiterated President Joe Biden’s December 2022 message that the U.S. is all-in on Africa. To that end, she said she traveled with 14 members of the President’s Advisory Council on doing business in Africa.

“Africa has changed the narrative and the companies that are here today know that,” said Raimondo. “And they reflect the optimism and the commitment from the U.S. business community about the opportunities in Kenya and across the continent.”

Raimondo also announced a partnership “to harness artificial intelligence, facilitate data flows and empower digital upskilling with Kenya.”

The partnership, she said, is the first of its kind with an African nation to promote the safe development and deployment of AI. In addition, seven private-sector deals on digital transformation and commitments were made involving companies including the NBA, CISCO, Pfizer, and Qualcomm.

Two new grants by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency were announced to expand semiconductor fabrication in Kenya and the construction of a fiber network along the railways.

Rebecca Miano, Kenya’s cabinet secretary with the Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry, told participants that Kenya should be a destination for investors and not only because of its young, educated and innovative workforce.

“We also have a green story: decarbonizing the world,” Miano said. “Kenya is a key player.”

Miano said that up to 95 percent of the electricity consumed in Kenya is renewable.

“We have a target to make it 100% in the next few years,” she said.

Summit explores tech, climate, energy

The two-day AmCham summit brought together businesses to stimulate commercial opportunities, said Maxwell Okello, CEO of AmCham Kenya.

This year’s summit focused on key areas such as the tech space, climate action and green energy, said Okello.

“I am sure you’ve walked around and seen the pavilion under the title ‘Digital Transformation Africa,’ which brings together technology ecosystems both Kenyan but American as well,” said Okello. “Secondly, we have shone the light on … matters related to climate action and green business because we know we need to be green as we are moving forward.”

Out of 400 companies at the event, Wandia Gichuru, CEO of Vivo Fashion Group, got a special shout-out from U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, who said she was wearing a top made by Gichuru’s apparel company.

“We were very excited, not only she was wearing something Vivo, but she also made the announcement that we would be opening our very first U.S. store in Atlanta this May,” said Gichuru. “… and we hope that the ambassador and our president will visit the store while they are in the U.S. for the state visit in May.”

President Ruto is set to visit the United States next month in the first state visit since he was elected.

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