The Irish Exporters Association’s Africa Business Forum (ABF) held a dual roundtable meeting for its members with both the Kenyan Ambassador to Ireland, Mr. Richard A. Opembe and the Irish Ambassador to Kenya, Dr. Vincent O’Neill on Tuesday, 1st September 2015. Hosted at the Irish Exporters Association offices, the event highlighted the range of business opportunities between Ireland and Kenya.
18 guests shared their experiences of doing business with Kenya and provided examples of successful Irish companies doing business in the market. The session commenced with Ambassador Opembe giving an overview of the main export opportunities in the African region, Agribusiness and Food Processing as well as highlighting some investment opportunities Infrastructure, Building and Construction, Tourism, Energy and Transport. This was followed by an overview by Dr. O’Neill of the role of the recently established Irish Embassy in Kenya and the supports available to Irish businesses interested in entering the Kenyan market. The activities of the recently launched Business Ireland Kenya network were also discussed.
In attendance were members of the Irish Exporters Association with business interests in Kenya and East Africa and representatives from both Embassies.
Having a GDP per capita US$ 1,418 and GDP of US$ of 58.1 billion which grew by 5.3 per cent in 2014, Kenya’s economy is mainly supported by the following sectors: construction; finance and insurance; wholesale and retail trade; information and communication; agriculture and forestry.
The bilateral trade between Kenya and Ireland has fluctuated significantly during the period 2001 to 2014. Bilateral trade increased from US $ 23 million to US $ 51 million in 2007 and US $ 64 million in 2014.
Ireland’s main exports to Kenya are the high value manufactured products including odoriferous mixtures, computers, medicaments, food preparations (malt), spirits/liquors, car engines, lab reagents, pharmaceuticals, milk and cream.
Kenya’s main exports to Ireland are tea, leguminous vegetables, cut flowers, plastic waste, fruit juices, coffee, vegetables and avocados.
Sean Finlay, Chairman of the Africa Business Forum commented:
“The Forum provided insights from two exceptionally well informed speakers- Kenya’s Ambassador to Ireland Richard A. Opembe and his counterpart Dr Vincent O’Neill, Ireland’s Ambassador to Kenya. The Embassies of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa atended along with IEA members with business interests in Kenya and East Africa.”
Kenya is on the cusp of major developments in minerals and hydrocarbon development, accompanied by substantial infrastructure projects in roads, rail and ports. The efficient delivery of these projects in a manner which ensures safe environmental, economic and societal benefits to Kenyan society is a key challenge and Irish companies are well equipped to assist in these tasks. The vigorous Kenyan economy also offers significant opportunities in agribusiness, tourism, ICT and financial services.
Other organisations which interact with Ireland’s Ambassador in Kenya and which play important roles in developing trade with Kenya, are the Business Ireland Kenya network and Enterprise Ireland; The Irish Exporters Association looks forward to working closely with them.
Dr. Vincent O’Neill, Irish Ambassador to Kenya commented:
“Ireland has a long history of contributing to development in Kenya. The opening of the new Irish Embassy in Nairobi, and the presence of a Kenyan Embassy in Ireland, presents a real opportunity for deepening trading links between our two countries and for identifying new markets for Irish goods and services in Kenya and the wider East African region.”