He stated that Kenya has a favourable environment for investments in technology and manufacturing.
President Ruto stated that the government is pursuing bold reforms to transform Kenya into a regional business hub.
“Kenya is economically stable, entrepreneurial, secure, innovative, and has a favourable tax environment,” he stated.
“We also have a large pool of skilled manpower, technological expertise, green energy credentials, and a gateway for six undersea fibre-optic cables that provide reliable data connectivity,” he added.
The President was speaking during a meeting in San Francisco, California, with executives from Apple (Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook), Microsoft, Google, Intel, Nike, GAP, and other investors.
He reassured investors that the government would carefully consider and address any concerns they may have in order to increase their confidence in Kenya.
President Ruto reaffirmed the government’s commitment to transforming Kenya into an African technological powerhouse.
He stated that Kenya’s robust digital connectivity is perfectly aligned with its people’s entrepreneurial drive.
“It is the strategic intent of this Government to support the enhancement of Kenya’s position as the epicentre of African innovation and technological transformation,” he explained.
The US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, British Robinson, the Coordinator of Prosper Africa, several investors, and captains of industry, attended the forum.
Ambassador Whitman said Kenya is the most stable democracy in East Africa, a regional logistics and leading financial hub, a gateway to the East African market, and a key destination for foreign direct investment and venture capital.
She noted that Kenya has successfully attracted global companies while also fostering innovative local companies that lead in innovation.
“What I see happening has many of the critical components that would make Silicon Savannah a reality,” she said.
Prosper Africa coordinator British Robinson said that the American Government has launched a presidential initiative: Digital Transformation for Africa, which seeks to unlock the continent’s e-commerce and digital potential.
She said that this initiative will assist American companies in deal sourcing, vetting, partnership formation, and de-risking transactions to ensure their investments come to fruition.
“We are committed to partnering with you all to unlock your business and investment potential in Africa,” she said.
American firms expressed confidence in Kenya as an ideal investment destination.
Microsoft COO Brad Smith said Kenya’s impressive returns on investment position it as an appealing destination for American venture capital.
He said that Kenya, despite offering solutions with broader applicability to connectivity and energy, remains largely unexplored.
“I think it has not been discovered to the extent it should be explored by the American venture capital community,” he observed.
Smith also said Kenya’s combination of low taxes and a strong commitment to the rule of law significantly enhances its overall competitiveness.
Google CFO Ruth Porat said Google has committed to investing USD 1 billion in Africa to bolster its digital training and innovation initiatives.
“We are part of the Kenya/US strategic investment initiative and are willing to collaborate around cloud,” she said.
Visa Global President Oliver Jenkyn said Kenya has played a vital role in enabling Visa to establish a strong presence in the East African market.
He said the organisation has picked Kenya as the only African country to host Visa’s global digital innovation studio.
“Less than a year ago, Visa made a commitment to invest USD 1 Billion in Africa over the next five years, and a large portion of that is going to Kenya,” he said.
805 Wine managing member Tony Hail said their investment in Kenya has yielded profitability, igniting their enthusiasm for extending their footprint in the country.
President Ruto also met with Levi Strauss and the executives of the Grammy Association.
Through a partnership with Mawingu, Microsoft has made a significant impact in Kenya by providing wireless broadband and device recharge services to over 1.5 million people in rural areas.
The firm also supports African startups, drives AI-driven solutions, and contributes to digital skilling and employment initiatives, showcasing its commitment to advancing technology and innovation in the region.
Google Hustle Academy supports SMEs, with around 1000 graduates celebrated during Jamhuri Day 2022.
It has actively contributed to Kenya’s development by granting Sh600 million to enhance connectivity for crucial citizen services and assist in affordable smartphone device creation.
On the other hand, Intel has established an AI Developer Lab at Kenya Technical Trainers’ College to train master trainers for youth AI application development.
Apple, too, is working with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) to enhance the country’s healthcare technology and innovation.