By NBM Writer
Frank Mosier, the chairman of Rendeavour, the owner and developer of the Tatu City Special Economic Zone in Kiambu County, has been named to a special committee advising President Donald Trump, the US government announced last month.
Mosier, a long-time emerging markets investor and the largest American investor in Rendeavour and Tatu City, has been named to the 26-member President’s Advisory Committee on Doing Business In Africa (PAC-DBIA), joining executives from General Electric, Visa, Bechtel, Mastercard, Pfizer and IBM, among other companies.
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the appointment.
The PAC-DBIA was established in 2014 to provide analysis and recommendations to the White House on strengthening commercial engagement between the United States and Africa.
The body informs US government policies and activities across the continent, particularly in advancing the economic pillar of the Trump Administration’s Africa Strategy through ‘Prosper Africa’, an economic initiative to substantially increase two-way trade and investment as well as support increased jobs in the United States and Africa.
“The United States is making real progress in Africa, and we remain a strong, long-term, and stable partner in the continent’s economic development especially through the Prosper Africa initiative. We are working to find solutions to transition aid-based economies to trade-based economies and to creating new pathways for mutually beneficial partnerships, said Ross.”
Tatu City has attracted more than 50 businesses to its light industrial and logistics park, including multi-nationals like Unilever and Kenyan champions like Cooper K-Brands, Dormans, Chandaria, Maxam and Kim-Fay.
Two schools have opened at Tatu City in the last two years, educating more than 1,500 students, a number which will double in the next 2-3 years.
In June, Tatu City got a major boost from the government, which declared the project a Special Planning Area, a move which cuts planning and construction approval bureaucracy for homeowners and developers and fast tracks Tatu City as a private sector development of national significance.
Like the government’s Konza City, Tatu City is now required to liaise with the Special Economic Zones Authority to establish a “one-stop” shop to facilitate “processing and issuance of development and construction permits and certificates of occupancy as envisaged under the provisions of Section 11 of the Special Economic Zones Act, No. 16 of 2015,” reads a 7 June 2019 notice published in the government’s Kenya Gazette and signed by National Director of Physical Planning Augustine Masinde.
The approval of the Special Planning Area for Tatu City – unique for a private sector investor in Kenya – comes on the heels of delays by Kiambu County in issuing construction permits to Tatu City and other developers in the county. Kiambu County Governor Ferdinand Waititu has since promised to clear a backlog of approval requests.
According to the World Bank, Kenya ranks 128 out of 186 countries in the ease of obtaining construction permits, lower than the regional average and well behind countries such as Rwanda, Ghana and Iraq.
Experts say Tatu City’s economic activity, and the planning and approvals required to support it, are unprecedented in the history of Kenya (Deloitte ranks Tatu City as the largest private construction project in Kenya). By awarding Tatu City, a Special Planning Area status, owing to its unique development potential, the government recognises that Tatu City’s success is in Kenya’s national economic interest, and the project’s planning and approval requirements need to be fast tracked at a national level.
“As a Special Planning Area, Tatu City will accelerate even faster, creating more jobs, homes and infrastructure,” said Chris Barron, Kenya Country Head for Rendeavour. “The government’s actions speak volumes about the climate for international investment in Kenya.”
The Special Planning Area will provide single reference “framework for the physical development and management of the area and guide the development control processes within Tatu City” to “facilitate realisation of the objectives of Tatu City as a Special Economic Zone,” the government’s declaration says. Special Economic Zone status gives businesses in the zone benefits such as low corporate taxes and zero import duties.
The project owners say more than Sh120 billion of investment in Kiambu County has been catalysed by the project.