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Kenya – Norway business relations: turning a new page

One of Norway’s largest business delegations ever to visit Africa – including 25 NABA member companies – visited Nairobi in February. Critical to sustain the momentum is a bilateral trade agreement that should be reached before 2021.

70 representatives from Norway took part in the three day programme where NABA was tasked by Innovation Norway to assist with the business mission preparations. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon, Norwegian Minister of Digitalisation Ms. Linda Hofstad Helleland and Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Ms. Lucie Katrine Sunde-Eidem had to cancel their participation when former president Daniel arap Moi passed away a few days prior to the visit – but a modified version of the business programme still took place, as many companies had already arrived Kenya.

From the welcome lunch where NABA Advisory Board Member Mr. Marius Koestler shared experiences from establishing a company in the region. Photo: Paul Karanja, Innovation Norway

Captains of industry shared advice

The overall programme included the Kenya – Norway Business Forum gathering companies from both countries, including speakers such as Minister of ICT & Communication H.E. Joe Mucheru, CEO of Centum Investment Mr. James Mworia and CEO of Seven Seas Technologies Mr. Mike Macharia. An overall challenge from the Kenyan captains of industry was that Norwegian companies should use Kenya as the base to scale business in the wider region. During the high level plenary session the speakers also highlighted the potential for more Kenyan-Norwegian business partnerships going forward. Norwegian companies from agri-tech, renewable energy and technology was showcased during the opening day, and Norwegian Energy Partners (NORWEP) and ICT Norway contributed with special sector sessions. The second day was filled with B2B-meetings and a dinner reception in the Karura Forest. The third day included site visits to renewable energy projects, the new urban development project Tatu City (cover photo by Paul Karanja from visit to Copia at Tatu City), and a visit to ed-tech and health tech companies organized by Lærdal Finance, before Norwegian Ambassador Elin B. Rognlie hosted a closing reception in her residence.

NABA CEO Mr. Eivind Fjeldstad, Minister of ICT & Communications H.E. Joe Mucheru and Norwegian Ambassador Elin B. Rognlie during the Kenya – Norway Business Forum. (Photo: Eli Bleie Munkelien, Director for East Africa, Innovation Norway) 

Important to sustain the momentum

-We were especially pleased that Innovation Norway included investors in this mission – in addition to some of the best examples from the Norwegian agritech, renewable energy and technology sector, says NABA CEO Mr. Eivind Fjeldstad. Although the business mission helped turned a page in the relations between Kenya and Norway, there is still a big job to be done.

-Should we sustain the momentum created in February, we also need to make sure that the Kenyan and Norwegian government kick-start a conversation leading to a free trade agreement. Starting in January 2021, import from Kenya to Norway (valued at NOK 541 million in 2019 and growing) is threatened by a 150 percent customs duty. This will damage trade and threaten jobs both in Norway and Kenya, says Fjeldstad. NABA is now launching a campaign to create awareness of the need for this trade agreement. Please email NABA’s Chief Operting Officer Ms. Mathilde E. Thue if you have questions related to the Kenya – Norway free trade agreement campaign: met@norwegianafrican.no 

Continue reading:

  • Read NABA’s report outlining the potential for Norwegian companies in Kenya that was launched during the Kenya Business Breakfast in Oslo in January by clicking here
  • Op-ed in Finansavisen “Silicon Savannah offers great opportunities for Norwegian companies” written by Minister of Digitalisation Ms. Helleland and Innovation Norway Director Mr. Haugli (in Norwegian) by clicking here
  • Norwegian newspaper Finansavisen (Financial Times of Norway) and journalist Mr. Anders Horntvedt has focused on Kenya – Norway business relations in several great articles in February/March; email us to request a copy.