By Simbowo Antony – East Africa Correspondent
Following on the trails of the Asian tiger economies, Kenya is keenly positioning itself as the next major business hub in Africa. Considered one of Africa’s anchor states along with South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Libya, Egypt and Sudan, Kenya is set to play its role in taking Africa’s business environment to the next level.
The Kenyan Government has already brought before parliament a bill dubbed ‘Business Regulation Bill 2007’, which is expected to not only smoothen the business climate in the country, but also to speed up its growth as part of the wider ‘Kenya Vision 2030’project tailored to make the country a global economic giant by the year 2030.
Already, an e-Registry, an equivalent of the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission is set to start operations as from September 2007. Through the registry, business people will be able to conduct name searches, register their businesses as well as renew their business licenses on expiry. Along with the e-Registry, other reforms include the removal of 205 licenses as well as the summarization of 371 others.
The licensing and business registration modifications have come at a time, when the African continent is slowly emerging as a serious commerce center in the world with countries like Angola (through the Angola National Investment Commission-ANIP) investing heavily in marketing themselves on global television channels such as the CNN. It is not lost to many that South Africa, for example, has been spreading its trade tentacles globally through such as trademarks as the SABCO millers, Galito’s restaurant chains, and DSTV among other reputable brands.
Kenya’s workforce, on the other hand, is respected worldwide in multinationals, International NGOs (INGOs) and the business world. In the last year alone in Kenya, the economy grew by 6.3%, an indication of the emerging market trend in the country. The country is set to offer IPOs 9Initial Public Offers) for its major telecommunications and mobile companies Telkom and Safaricom in the coming weeks. These IPOs, experts contend, are the biggest ever presented in the whole Eastern and Central African regions.
Along with the domestic trade restructurings include plans to make Kenyan cities 24 hour trade nuclei. A number of establishments are already operating round the clock in Nairobi the capital but the number is expected to increase and the program expands to other cities and towns with the new streamlining regulations in place.
The recent venture into the Kenyan stock and securities trading scene by globally respected and Russian-based private equity fund, Renaissance Capital, only goes a long way in showing just how much faith investors have on Kenya’s economic future. Renaissance Capital (Kenya) Limited received their trading license on the 7th of August 2007. As the commerce arena shapes itself in Africa, Kenya is certainly set to play its deserved part and help steer economic growth in the wider African continent.