Betty C. Mainan, Minister of Industry and Enterprise Development, Moses Ikiara, Director of KenInvest, Richard Ngatia, President of the Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), Kiprono Kittony, President of the Nairobi Securities Exchange , many business leaders, “last but not least”, President Uhuru Kenyatta in person: Kenya will have participated in force in the 6e edition of BpiFrance Inno Generation (BIG), the meeting place for made in France innovation.
In this particular context of the Covid-19 crisis, BIG wanted to be that of the “renewal” of the French economy. It will have given pride of place to Africa, present through 13 workshops, and more than ever between resilience and innovation. Kenya, the economic powerhouse of East Africa, is expected to grow 2.6% this year, the highest in the region according to the Kenyan finance minister. More than ever, it is positioning itself as a real regional hub in terms of infrastructure, investments, but also in terms of digital.
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Kenya, a tech ecosystem full of opportunities
Through successes such as those of Mpesa, a pioneer in the sector of cash transfers via mobile telephony, Konza Technology City, renamed “Silicon Savannah”, a flagship project of the Kenya 2030 vision whose objective is to accelerate the economic transition of the country, relying in particular on digital technology, the Kenyan tech ecosystem is diversifying, accelerating… and attracting. While the international giants are already there, investments in the digital sector are multiplying, in FinTech in particular. More broadly in infrastructure, renewable energies, transport… What to understand that in VRP mission, the Kenyan president made the trip to Paris. Kenya’s resilient economy nonetheless needs innovations.
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President Uhuru Kenyatta promotes Kenya…
“This pandemic has hit us all. Even if we have to protect ourselves, we have to understand that the world cannot stop, the show must go on! And we must fight together, ”the Kenyan president told French entrepreneurs. “It’s a world war, nobody can win alone, we have to fight together”, he added. Referring to the many opportunities offered by the African continent, far from being limited to oil, gas and diamonds, Uhuru Kenyatta invited French entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities. According to an approach taken by Emmanuel Macron, “a man who understood that Franco-African relations should not be based on history but on the potential to work together to build a prosperous future”.
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Referring to these young people who do not hesitate to cross, risking their lives, the Mediterranean, in search of a better future, he assured that “the opportunities are in Africa. And (he is) here for it ”. And to highlight the entry into force of the AfCFTA, “a market of 1.3 billion consumers who need everything”. This opens up new opportunities for European and French manufacturers in particular. “There is a whole lot of sector where we have things to contribute, a new image of who we are and who we are in Africa. “
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… to French companies encouraged by President Macron
In turn, the French president promoted the Kenyan market to the French entrepreneurs present. “You have an extraordinarily young market with a lot of opportunities that the President is stabilizing as the country faces all the challenges Africa faces, including that of security for which he has done a remarkable job. An entry point to a large market. And the French who were very few present. Out of habit, because he’s not on our radar. Things have changed dramatically because Kenya wanted it and wants it. With the desire to find new partners. “
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Recalling his visit to Kenya in March 2019, “the first of a French head of state, which is incredible”, which resulted in nearly two billion euros in contracts signed and, subsequently, by a greater presence of French companies in Kenya, a hundred including PSA, Accor, Carrefour …, he assured that “there is a whole lot of sector where we have things to contribute, a new image of what we are and what we are in Africa ”.
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Underlining the launch of Digital Africa, “a unique platform for connecting with French and African companies”, he urged the French. “In this difficult time, for those whose activity has not been affected, do not wait! Yes, we will live with the virus for a while longer, but the more innovative we will be, the more technology we will use, the less we will go towards reducing our activities. We have one thing as French people, we know how to innovate! The world after has already started. “
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France facing Chinese competition
Conceding the weakness of France in Africa in terms of financing mechanism, vis-à-vis China in particular, recalling the holding, next spring, of a summit “to jointly redefine the rules for financing the African economy”, he declared : “If, for years, Kenya has turned to China, it is because it provides funding. They are not in the OECD, do not respect the rules of the game, unlike us ”, announcing a new strategy with AFD on this issue of financing“ with more competitive lines ”. And to mention “a more structured and more competitive team”, composed in particular of AFD and its armed wing Proparco, BPI France and Business France.
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It remains to be seen whether Kenya, whose economy is heavily indebted to China, will have a free hand to find new partners, French among others. In the meantime, this new era in France-Kenya relations has already been materialized by the signing of a contract, the day before the opening of the 6e edition of the BIG, betweenPublic-private partnership unit of the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and the company Rift Valley Highway, a subsidiary of VINCI Highways (agent), VINCI Concessions, and Meridiam SAS, for the development of the Nairobi highway project – Nakuru – Mau Summit. “The largest road project ever built in Kenya,” said President Kenyatta. A PPP amounting to of approximately 1.3 billion euros.