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11 December 2023

Dubai International Chamber successfully concludes East Africa trade mission with economic forum in Kenya and facilitates over 250 bilateral business meetings

By E247

Dubai International Chamber, one of the three chambers operating under the umbrella of Dubai Chambers, has successfully concluded its four-day trade mission to East Africa with a special business forum in Nairobi, Kenya. The chamber signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and coordinated more than 250 bilateral business meetings between the 19 Dubai-based companies participating in the mission and their counterparts from Kenya. 

The trade mission is the latest activity under the ‘New Horizons’ initiative spearheaded by Dubai International Chamber, which is aimed at driving the international expansion of Dubai-based businesses in targeted priority markets. The initiative enables companies to join international roadshows and trade fairs to gain first-hand experience in new territories, with the goal of exploring potential investment opportunities and economic partnerships. These trade missions will play a vital role in achieving Dubai’s goal of increasing non-oil foreign trade to US$ 544.5 billion (AED 2 trillion) by 2026, in line with the emirate's five-year trade plan.

The forum was organised by the chamber in cooperation with the UAE Embassy in Nairobi and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The event featured speeches by His Excellency Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers; His Excellency Dr. Salem Ibrahim Al Naqbi, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Kenya; and Peter Njoroge, Director of External Trade at the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry of the Republic of Kenya. Hassan Al Hashemi, Vice President of International Relations at Dubai Chambers, also delivered an informative presentation on Dubai’s economic landscape and outlined the numerous competitive advantages that have contributed to the emirate’s position as a leading global economic hub.

The business forum attracted more than 170 participants. Speaking at the event, His Excellency Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, who led the trade mission, highlighted the importance of bilateral meetings in establishing economic partnerships between the business communities in Dubai and Kenya, stating that the Kenyan market offers an abundance of rewarding opportunities for Dubai companies wishing to expand their presence on the African continent.

H.E. Lootah added: "Through our meetings in Nairobi, we aim to diversify the exports of Dubai-based companies to the Kenyan market and help businesses in the emirate establish branches and offices in Africa. This initiative will contribute to achieving the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) and the chambers’ strategic priorities by driving the global expansion of Dubai-based companies. We remain committed to extending all support necessary to further enhance the competitiveness of the emirate's companies in international markets.”

His Excellency Dr. Salem Ibrahim Al Naqbi, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Republic of Kenya, commented: “We are proud of the strategic partnership between the UAE and the Republic of Kenya. Our markets share strong trade ties, with the UAE as a key destination for Kenyan exports and a major source of Kenyan imports, and we are keen to further enhance this relationship. Kenya and the UAE are in talks to remove all barriers to trade, investment, and the movement of goods and people. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage Kenyan businesspeople and investors to engage in similar trade missions and visits to explore opportunities in the UAE.”

Peter Njoroge, Director of External Trade at the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry of the Republic of Kenya, said: “Dubai is a key gateway for trade between Kenya and the rest of the world. As of 2022, the UAE is Kenya’s seventh-largest export destination and the second-largest import source market. This meeting is therefore timely as members of the private sector can take advantage of the growing bilateral trade and create a node-to-node nexus between Nairobi and Dubai for trade and investments between Africa and the Middle East.”

Memorandum of Understanding
During the forum, Dubai Chambers signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to enhance cooperation in organising events, trade missions, exhibitions, conferences, and training sessions. The agreement is aimed at facilitating the exchange of knowledge and promoting investments between the business communities in Dubai and Kenya. The MoU was signed by His Excellency Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers, and Dr. Erick Rutto, President of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Dubai's non-oil trade with Kenya reached US$ 2.1 billion (AED 7.8 billion) in 2022, a growth rate of 6.8% compared to 2021. A total of 447 Kenyan companies were registered as active members of Dubai Chamber of Commerce at the end of Q3 2023, 94 of which joined during the first nine months of this year.

According to fDi Intelligence data, the cumulative value of investments from Dubai to Kenya between January 2018 and July 2023 amounted to US$ 253 million (AED 931 million). These were mainly concentrated in the food and beverage, financial services, transportation and storage, industrial equipment, consumer products, software, IT, and business services sectors. Dubai also accounted for 98.9% of the UAE's total investment in Kenya. The number of Dubai companies registered in Kenya is estimated at around 15, with these companies operating mostly in the fintech, renewable energy, real estate development, and infrastructure development sectors.

A panel discussion was held as part of the forum, which brought together expert speakers in the fields of logistics, customs legislation, and the investment and financial sectors in Kenya. The panellists explored the advantages of doing business in Kenya and shared their knowledge of the local business landscape with the visiting delegation from Dubai during an interactive Q&A session. This was followed by a series of bilateral business meetings between representatives of companies from Dubai and Kenya. The trade mission programme also included a number of field visits.

Kenya is one of the most vibrant and diversified economies in East Africa and among the five largest economies on the continent. Recognised for its well-developed financial services sector and strong banking sector, Kenya has successfully leveraged innovations in fintech, especially in the fields of mobile banking and digital payments.