By Uhuru Kenyatta
I am very pleased to announce that Peugeot Group have signed a contract to begin assembling Peugeot vehicles in Kenya.
I think it is safe to say that few Kenyans are strangers to Peugeot: It is a brand that has been with us since independence. In welcoming them back, we welcome an old friend and partner who has chosen to deepen and strengthen that friendship. Thank you.
Even as we thank Peugeot for the trust they have shown, we need to get a clear view of our industrial situation, the better to understand where we’re going.
I don’t need to tell you that progress in industry is vital to our prospects. Kenya has many young people educated, diligent, innovative young men and women. It is up to us to find them the jobs that will enable them to make an honorable living.
That is why my government has worked so hard to make our nation the region’s hub for investment and industry. We have worked hard to make Kenya the most attractive destination for investment in this region. That means cutting the red tape -the thickets of rules and regulations which had grown up, and which threaten to choke off the growth of business and investment.
It means transparency in the prices of inputs. It means real work to cut the costs of transport and energy — that is why we have put so much more power into the grid, and why we are building the Standard-Gauge Railway, while making sure that it directly benefits Kenyan industry.
We have worked to remove barriers for Kenyan investors, who want to invest in their own country, we have cut interest rates on loans, and that is why through this process we have put more capital in the hands of our young people, and other once-marginalized groups.
In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, we are the 3rdmost improved country globally for two consecutive years; and we also ranked as the most improved country in Africa for 2016.
We also see that last year, manufacturing output grew 3.5%, signaling the revival of Kenyan industry, and our return to regional dominance. From Wrigley, which will invest 5.8 billion in a plant in Machakos, to the Volkswagen plant which opened in Thika last year, to the Pan-Paper plant which we revived just a few months ago, industry and investment in Kenya are on the move.
I am particularly pleased by the momentum that Kenya is creating in the motor vehicle sector. The investment signed today by the Peugeot Group to locally assemble motor vehicles in our country at a plant which will be announced in due course is most welcome: It will create the jobs we need for our young people; it will teach them new skills; and it will hasten the growth of associated industries – all of which will encourage even more investment, not just in this sector but in others too.
For our part, my Government will continue to enforce the Buy Kenya Build Kenya policy, to support companies and businesses that produce in Kenya. We hope to see many Peugeot cars on our roads going forward – all of them built right here in Kenya, by Kenyans, for Kenyans and the region. What could be better?
Mine now is to thank Peugeot once again, and to assure you, gentlemen, that my Government will support you fully, so long as you put Kenya at the very core of your work here.
The author is the President of the Republic of Kenya