By Conrad Onyango, bird stories agency
Kenya has hailed the upcoming launch of a new international financial center in Nairobi – along with incentives for multinationals and start-ups – and the recent opening of a new elevated highway that seeks to raise the profile of the city. as an African business and technology hub. .
Kenya’s ecosystem of tech start-ups – among the hottest on the continent – is looking to attract even more interest abroad as the country launches an international financial hub and giant tech companies renew their interest in the “Silicon Savannah” of East Africa.
The Nairobi International Financial Center is set to officially launch in mid-June, offering foreign investors in the financial sector special offers – including taxes and immigration incentives – and space in the new building.
Companies wishing to join the center are required to pay a certification fee of Ksh. 1 million (about $8,620) and an annual fee of Ksh 500,000 (about $4,310), according to regulations issued by the country’s National Treasury.
Already two companies are on board, according to press releases. UK underwriter Prudential Plc has announced plans to set up its Africa headquarters in Nairobi, while TheCityUK, which offers financial and related services, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
Start-ups still in the seed funding stage will benefit from a lower membership fee of 100,000 shillings (about $862) and a similar annual fee, for a period of three years, offering foreign investors the opportunity to Conclude seed deals more easily with early-stage fintech and associated startups.
TheCityUK has already stipulated that its first area of collaboration with the agency is in the fintech sector.
In the MoU signed between the Nairobi International Financial Center Authority (NIFCA) and TheCityUK, uncovering opportunities to increase funding for Kenyan fintechs was high on the agenda.
“Kenya has the opportunity to become a continental fintech leader and significantly boost financial inclusion by improving the existing ecosystem,” TheCityUK said at a fintech forum in Nairobi in March. The company will also seek to improve the country’s policy and regulatory framework and support the growth and scaling of fintechs.
The opening of the new center will come just a month after the May 14 opening of an elevated highway, designed to reduce travel time between Nairobi airport and its city center and main business districts. Travel time from the airport to the Westlands area using the new, toll, motorway – which could previously take hours – has been advertised to be just 10 minutes. Kenya highlighted this and other infrastructure projects as evidence of its commitment to making its business environment more conducive to regional headquarters or hubs.
Africa: The Big Deal, an Africa-focused database, ranks Kenya among Africa’s tech startup ecosystems that have broken month-on-month fundraising records since November 2021.
“Kenya is on an eight-month winning strike, with incredible results: in April 2022, start-ups in Kenya raised 83 times the amount they raised in April 2021,” he said.
With the start-up ecosystem continuing to grow and the city’s increased attractiveness as a commercial hub, Nairobi’s financial center rankings are also set to gain.
Kenya overtook eight other financial jurisdictions to make it into the top 100 global financial centers last year, before slipping to 101 due to poor fintech performance towards the end of the year.
Nairobi has long been considered the economic hub of East Africa and the city had seen its rating climb 21 points since March 2021 to 98th position, before falling back.
Nairobi is now ranked sixth in Africa after Casablanca (53), Cape Town (54), Johannesburg (56), Mauritius (87) and Kigali (99), according to the latest Global Financial Centers Index.
There are still many challenges ahead.
“Africa does not have the right skills right now. If the continent is to succeed, it must match labor supply with demand, especially around emerging technologies, said Bitange Ndemo, professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Nairobi Business School.
Despite this, in the first quarter of 2022, global tech giants made concerted efforts to tap into Kenya’s talent and business opportunities.
Microsoft has launched one of two Africa Development Center (ADC) sites in Nairobi, with plans to hire at least 450 full-time staff, while Google has announced it is hiring more than 100 staff to its upcoming product development center – the company’s first such facility in Africa. .
Giant financial payment solutions company Visa has also launched in the city, with one of its six global innovation hubs, while Amazon, which has chosen Cape Town as its continental hub, has also expressed its intention to launch an Amazon Web Services (AWS) local zone.
In May, real estate firm Knight Frank named Nairobi the only city in Africa to be among the top 45 global cities for growth in 2021, in its latest Prime Global Cities Index.
/bird story agency