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Kenya seeks to boost industrial links with South Korea

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Tuesday called on South Korean firms to seize the opportunity of an open door policy by Kenya for firms involved in science and technology to invest in the country.

The PM met members of the Federation of Korean Industries in Seoul, South Korea, where he announced Kenya will open its Special Economic Zones and the Konza Technology City to Korean firms keen on science and innovation.

Kenya’s effort to forge closer ties with rising Asian economies in a bid to create jobs and sustain economic growth was a key government plan, Odinga said.

“We are here to strengthen ties and to learn. The economic transformation that has taken place here is a thing to be admired, to draw inspiration from and to be emulated,” Odinga said.

“In our country, we too look up to South Korea to inspire change and provide encouragement where it is most needed,” Odinga told the Federation of Korean Industries.

There are 35 Korean firms currently operating in Kenya. The government of Kenya has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with South Korea’s POSCO to establish the Mini and Integrated Steel Mill plant in Kenya following the discovery of iron ore in Kenya.

Nairobi maintained more firms could move into the same area. Kenya has also embarked on a concerted search for the right energy mix to power the economy.

Korean firms could help Kenya exploit its geothermal resources alongside wind, clean coal, natural gas and solar sources to eliminate power shortages and substantially reduce the cost of energy.

“We are in the process of setting up three Special Economic Zones; in Lamu, Mombasa and in Kisumu. The Special Economic Zones … are keen on plants manufacturing Left Hand and Right Hand drive motor vehicles for the Kenyan and other African markets,” Odinga said.

The Special Economic Zones will also manufacture machine tools and spares through Kenya’s Numerical Machining Complex.

Kenya is currently trying to attract firms to invest in its proposed technology city, the Konza Technology City, which, it says, will provide a convenient launchpad into the African market for technology driven Korean companies.

LG Electronics, which had already established a Liaison office in Nairobi, should also move a step ahead and establish its East and Central Africa office and manufacturing plant in Kenya, within the Konza Techno City, Odinga said.

“We will gladly accommodate the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology within the Konza Techno City as an innovation centre,” the PM said.

Earlier, Odinga visited the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology where he announced a concept to establish the Nairobi Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST).

Kenyan nuclear energy engineers are also training in Korea.

“What this means is that at government-to-government level, we have embarked on a journey to a joint future. I appeal to you, the private sector, not to let the bureaucrats and politicians of or our two governments walk alone. Join us on this journey. Take a flight to Nairobi and let us face the future together,” the PM said.

Mr Odinga’s appeal comes as the Korean national broadcasting station began promotional advertisement saying “Africa Can be Reached in 13 hours”, following the launch of direct flights to Nairobi by Korean Airlines.

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