KENYA – Nairobi has topped the list of the most strategic city for multinationals eyeing the African market.
This is a major boost to the government’s efforts to make Nairobi a regional hub. The city beat those in Southern and Western Africa, previously thought to be the most preferred.
According to the Africa Integration Index released by Visa Tuesday, Nairobi is the most attractive due to its expansive dual air connectivity with the world, as well other to African countries.
While South Africa is ranked as the most globally integrated country on the continent, the second biggest economy in Africa lacks similar connections to the Africa continent, which Kenya has, thanks to the national carrier.
This makes Kenya a transport hub and a preferred investment destination for multinationals with an eye on the East African region and the continent at large.
“Kenya is the better positioned gateway to Africa due to its good regional and international connection,” said Prof Adrian Saville of the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg, South Africa, who steered the study.
The national carrier, Kenya Airways, flies to more African cities than any other airline on the continent, while most international carriers en route to other destinations in the region make stopovers in Nairobi.
The index places South Africa as the most integrated country on the continent, with a rating of 66.7, followed by Kenya with a rating of 55.
“Interestingly, Kenya’s depth of global integration is far greater than that of regional integration. But the breadth of the country’s economic relationships with its neighbours is far stronger than its breadth with the rest of the world,” Visa general manager for East and Southern Africa Jabu Basopo said.
The rating is based on flow of goods and services, financial integration and movement of capital, flow of information and knowledge, and movement of people.
The study is done in 11 countries representing East, Southern and Western Africa. These countries represent 55 per cent of the African population.
In West Africa, Ghana is the most integrated country, ahead of Nigeria, which is currently the continent’s biggest economy.
The study recommends that Kenya deepens its relations with countries it already is integrated with to include more sectors and industries.
Mr Basopo said the index helps the company adopt a better approach in growing its business on the continent.
“We also hope the index provides another useful tool for policymakers when making strategic economic decisions,” he said.
Kenya has been fighting to cement its position as the key investment hub of Africa.
Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government would set up a one-stop centre where local and foreign investors can access all the services required to start and run a business in Kenya.
The unit will operate under the umbrella of Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), the body mandated to promote the country as a preferred investment destination.