Two Bills-the Konza Bill and Startup Bill 2020 which are focused on stimulating investment by lowering taxes and de-risking investment in the country are in the pipeline.
During a tour of the Konza Technopolis, Makueni Senator, Mr. Mutula Kilonzo Junior and his Nairobi counterpart, Mr. Johnson Sakaja stressed the need for laws to cushion and encourage investors and investments in the country.
“We want our investors who are coming here to invest upwards of 5 billion US Dollars. Some have moved to other destinations with friendly investment packages,” said Mr. Kilonzo who undertook to champion the Konza Bill when it comes to the floor of the Senate, and the National Assembly.
With specific reference to Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), Mr. Kilonzo said: “The future of Konza is anchoring it firmly under the law. Being a smart city, you want to give investors’ confidence irrespective of any political upheavals or change of Government that their investment is protected.”
He was categorical that giving investors incentives such as tax holidays and allowing the planning of Konza Technopolis and its physical planning to have own separate regime of laws, were some of the ways in which the investors can get approvals quickly.
Senator Mutula pointed out that one of challenges that bedevils the country is that investors get their permissions, trading licences after too long, adding that the country has lost several investors as a result of stringent tax regimes.
The Konza Bill will ensure companies are registered and businesses get their licences immediately on an e-platform. “This can only happen if we have a strong legal foundation. So I envision a situation where all the concerned officials at national levels will be sitting in Konza so that investors don’t have a problem wherever they are,” the Makueni Senator added.
On his part, the Nairobi Senator said it is imperative to have legislation that enables investors to be de-risked in terms of investment in start-ups in order for them to be able to benefit from each other.
“We have published a Start-Up Bill 2020 and we want to work together with Konza to see how we can link it and how we can link these innovators, those interested in doing incubation, how we can get them registered and really breath in life into Konza because it is more than buildings; brick and mortar and infrastructure,” Mr. Sakaja said.
Konza, he added, is a hub not only for Kenya but Africa: “We can truly have our Silicon Savannah here. It really is about the soul of innovation and how then that becomes the next frontier for creating jobs. The kind of jobs for the future are those which can be nurtured in such a set-up.”
He further said Kenya’s innovation prowess is recognized globally as the young and smart people in the country are coming up with ideas in different innovation hubs across the country.
The Nairobi Senator said the Government had a good idea of giving young people access to technology through laptops. “If Kenya has been so innovative with a very small number of people having access, just imagine what will happen when all our young people have access. The possibilities are limitless,” he stated.
Mr. Sakaja pointed out that young people’s dreams are not just to wash cars. “How many cars will you wash until you become a millionaire? It is not just to have vinyozis. That is nice for now to keep them going.”
“But how do we harness the ideas, the innovation that they have to make them create jobs and have a group of young people from Kisumu sitting in Konza doing logistics for a fishing line in Japan using technology and the incentives that we will have here in Konza. So, we look forward to working together to attract investment and unlock opportunities for the people of Kenya,” Mr. Sakaja added.