Improving the Kenyan investment climate with KenInvest E-regulations


One of the goals of the private sector development policy of the Netherlands is the improvement of the business climate in developing countries. With the E-regulations program in Kenya it has become easier for investors and entrepreneurs to invest in Kenya. A top-80 ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index is a realistic goal if Kenya keeps improving like they have in the last couple of years.

Kenya is eager to improve its business climate and progressed from 129th in 2015 to 108th in 2016 on the World Bank ease of doing business index. The goal is a structural place in the top-80, and The Netherlands supports Kenya in structurally breaking down barriers to starting and managing a business.

“The first time I started a business ten years ago, it took me two years to register, today it only takes a day”. This kind of a reaction is very common in the Huduma centers in downtown Nairobi. Huduma means services in Swahili and the centers are a place where you can take care of many civil obligations. Registering a newborn child, renewing your driver’s license, or starting up your own business, all you need to do is: go to a Huduma center. But to start a company, you need to bring the right documentation. And this is no walk in the park in Kenya, especially for foreign investors who might not be familiar with the Kenyan labyrinth of rules and regulations.

The Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) is an institute that takes the lead in improving the business climate in Kenya, with support of UNCTAD and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The online database is designed to provide investors and entrepreneurs with full transparency on investment related procedures in Kenya.

Moses Ikiara, Director of KenInvest is dedicated to improve the availability of bankable projects of Kenyan companies for investors. He is developing his institute as a central place where investors can find projects that are looking for investments and where investors can find the necessary forms to set up a joint venture The KenInvest team, together with UNCTAD, visited all the agencies that are concerned with setting up a business and investing in a Kenyan company. What forms are necessary? How long does it take to complete this step? How much will it cost me? Who is responsible for the procedure? Where can I file a complaint if the agency does not deliver? The answers to all of these questions were documented and put together. They can be found here.

The second challenge is the lack of awareness of the opportunities that the Kenyan economy offers to foreign investors. According to Mr. Ikiara, the investment portal should become a one stop shop for investors, where they can find “all they need to know” about the opportunities and the requirements for investing in Kenya. The requirements are already online; now it is up to the businesses of Kenya to present their projects and ideas to investors.

Comparable initiatives have started in Benin and Bangladesh. We expect them to be as successful as the KenInvest E-regulations program.

Desirée Hagenaars
Twitter: @hagenaars2

Read more about the Dutch policy for improving the climate for business in developing countries.