I Don't Find Kenya Attractive Anymore - Foreign Investor Manufacturing Edible Oils Reveals

Several bottles of edible oil at a factory
Several bottles of edible oil at a factory
Narendra Bisht

Foreign investors manufacturing edible oils on Wednesday, May 29 raised concerns of the harsh business environment in the country before Members of Parliament.

One of the investors, who came to Kenya in 2012 complained about the government's appetite to increase taxes yearly through different laws and the Finance Bill.

Owing to the increase in taxes the investor hinted at exiting the Kenyan market arguing that the taxes have made local production in Kenya expensive.

"One of the key factors that attract me to a country as an investor is stability. Unfortunately, as a foreign investor in this country, I no longer find Kenya attractive," he remarked.

Cooking oil products on sale
A stock photo of bottled cooking oil on sale at a supermarket.

The investors further revealed that the company has been in operation for over 86 years years and operates in 14 countries but has never faced such instability compared to Kenya. It also recently expanded in West Africa.

He emphasised that in all his years in the industry, Kenya was the only country which has continued changing tax policies making business difficult and pushing more investors outside the country.

He gave the example of Egypt where the company survived despite the issue of devaluation. The investor noted that Egypt was stable and did not increase taxes creating a sustainable business environment.

"When we came here, I had a plan to expand the business but at the moment I am only looking to survive. I love this country but the taxes keep changing," he emphasised.

Another investor in the manufacturing sector also lamented about the increased taxes which is lowering Kenya's competitiveness compared to other countries.

He asked the government to stop taxing raw materials and instead tax the end product to lower the cost of manufacturing which often burdens the consumer.

"Go tax at the end of the value chain but if you tax raw products, you are destroying local production," he added.

The two are not the only investors or business owners in the country to complain about the increasing taxes in the country which are burdening Kenyans.

Anthony Mwangi the CEO of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) raised concerns after the Finance Bill 2024 was introduced. He argued that if the bill is enacted as it is, Kenyans will pay more for various commodities.

In response to the concerns and criticism, President William Ruto assured Kenyans that the taxes are meant to get Kenya out of debt.

"My drive is to push Kenya, this year will be at 16 per cent. I want in my term, God willing to leave it at between 20 and 22 per cent," he stated on May 14.

President William Ruto speaking at State House in Nairobi, on May 27, 2024
President William Ruto speaking at State House in Nairobi, on May 27, 2024