Japan seeks to invest in Kenya’s energy sector a move prompted by recommendations given by Amina Mohamed, the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, on Monday during the Kenya-Japan business forum.

“Huge opportunities exist in the construction of an ICT city (Konza city), the first in East and Central Africa, the Lamu port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) project and the development in the energy sector,” said Ambassador Mohamed.

Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) is prospecting for oil and gas in Block 14T in Magadi, Kajiado County, in partnership with the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK).  JOGMEC said it plans to provide capital finance to Japanese firms seeking to venture into Kenya’s oil industry.

“Kenya has a lot of opportunities for Japan to invest in. The latest market front is oil,” Hisanori Nei, the executive director said.

The one-day forum organized by Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in cooperation with Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) brought together representatives of 36 local companies and 10 from Japan.

Marubeni Corporation, a Japanese firm, on Tuesday said it was keen to secure deals in the oil industry alongside power generation in the geothermal sector. They have also shown interest in the laying of a pipeline connecting the drilling site to refinery and marketers.

“We seek to actively venture into the oil sector,” said Hirohisa Miyata, the Chief Operating Officer in charge of power projects and infrastructure.

During the forum, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Carol Kariuki called upon more companies from Japan to come to Kenya and invest in especially in the geothermal sub-sector.She said that Kenya has over 10,000 megawatts of geothermal resources that need to be exploited and boost the country’s power grid.

“In geothermal, there are areas of transmission and distribution that needs upgrading and expansion. For example right now we do have excess power in Mombasa, but we are not able to bring it out of the place because of transmission issues. So this presents an opportunity, in that we can use a lot of technology from Japan to be able to expand that area,” said the CEO.

According to Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) show Kenya imported products worth Sh52.5 billion from Japan and exported products valued at Sh3.7 billion at the end of last year; a trade deficit which the government seeks to remedy.

The forum marks the first joint action after the Fifth Summit Meeting of Tokyo International Conference on African Development held in Yokohama, Japan, in June this year. Its objective is promoting business between Kenya and Japan, and to explore possibilities for the further involvement of Japanese companies in the economic development of Kenya.

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