Explain loss of chance to host bank headquarters
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs owes Kenyans an explanation as to why it let go of such an opportunity.
Nairobi refused to grant Afrexim diplomatic status among other privileges. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Reports that Kenya lost the race to host the Sh3 billion African Export Import (Afrexim) Bank headquarters to Uganda are worrying to say the least. The multilateral lender has decided to move to Kampala after Nairobi refused to grant it diplomatic status among other privileges.Given that Kenya is the main economic power in the region, the loss of such an opportunity cannot be wished away.By denying the lender those privileges, the country lost the benefits that come with hosting such prominent organisations.
It is our view that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs owes Kenyans an explanation as to why it let go of such an opportunity.According to the agency, it has been forced to relocate to Kampala after being kept waiting for more than three years without any word on its application for the necessary approvals.Such bureaucratic lethargy is uncalled for especially when it results in the country losing a chance to beef up its regional economic hub status.It goes without saying that hosting the Afrexim Bank headquarters in Nairobi would have been a big boost to the Kenyan economy through foreign direct investment and job opportunities for locals.The lender is owned by African states and has approved more than $60 billion in credit facilities to businesses since 1994.According to the lender, it is now set to sign a deal with Uganda before the end of the year. Relocating to Kampala means all the potential benefits of hosting such an office, including investment in buildings, rents and employment, will now go to Uganda.This is a situation that could have been addressed with ease and without delay by laying down the ground rules quite early.Three years is such a long time to keep one waiting for an answer.The Foreign Affairs ministry is said to have scuttled the deal as it was not keen on granting the diplomatic and taxation privileges that Afrexim had sought, but which the lender said had been granted by host governments in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Cote dÍvorie and Egypt. It also cited similar privileges enjoyed by similar multilateral agencies that are based in Kenya.