Raila Odinga wants Chinese investors to target Kenyan counties

BEIJING: CORD leader Raila Odinga has asked Chinese businesses to forge links with county governments in Kenya for investment opportunities saying the country is keen to ensure growth is driven from diverse quarters.

Addressing the 10th World Eminent Chinese Entrepreneurs Congress in Beijing, Odinga said that with devolution, Kenya is embracing what nations like China, Germany, India, UK long established, making their economies driven from multiple decentralized political and economic units.

“Kenya wants to retain Nairobi as its equivalent to Beijing here, but also create other centres of economic activity as in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shantou, Tianjin, Wenzhou, among others. We are seeking to create an economy firing truly on all cylinders,” the Opposition leader said.

He said the coming of devolution in Kenya has opened investment opportunities in healthcare, agriculture, tourism, ICT, financial services, infrastructure development and education among other areas, in all parts of the country.

He appealed to the Chinese to particularly target agriculture, healthcare and informal sectors saying they have the highest potential for most of the counties.

He said nearly all counties have opportunities in large-scale irrigation for high value crops like soybeans, fruits, floriculture, horticulture, rice and sugar cane.

Mr Odinga said soybeans in particular have great potential in western Kenya, which produces 50 per cent of the beans in Kenya used in production of vegetable oils annually.

He said only one third of the soybeans used in the country is produced locally.

“Virtually all counties have opportunities for investment in setting up of specialist regional hospitals, digitization of health and setting up of international satellite hospitals,” he said.

The former PM told Chinese business leaders that although most of Kenya’s counties are too small to attract big corporations, they are coming together as commonwealths to enable them enjoy economies of scale.

He said that in the Coast, five counties with shared interest have joined hands while ten counties form former Western and Nyanza provinces are in the process of coming together with a possibility of three others from the Rift Valley joining.

He asked Chinese to diversify their investment in Kenya from infrastructure to other areas of the economy, especially agriculture.

Raila is in China for one week visit attending the 10th World Eminent Chinese Entrepreneur Congress in Beijing as a guest of the World Eminent Chinese Business Association (WECBA) and the China General Chamber of Commerce. WECBA is an Association of the Top 500 Chinese Entrepreneurs drawn from different parts of the world. He is accompanied by his daughter Rosemary Odinga and Mr Eliud Owalo, a Management Consultant.