The CEO of the Anglo-Dutch food and CPG giant Paul Polman met with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in Nairobi last week, where Polman said the planned investment would help Unilever expand in the greater eastern African region, including in Ethiopia and Tanzania. The investment would expand its tea processing factories in Kericho from the current capacity of 30,000 tonnes a year to 50,000 tonnes a year, work with farmers to increase tea yields, and create jobs.
According to the president’s office report, Polman said Kenya was one of three strategic hubs for the company in Africa, along with Nigeria and South Africa due to its good infrastructure, including efforts to improve cargo handling efficiency at the port of Mombasa. Unilever buys as much as 30% of Kenyan tea, it said.
President Kenyatta said the government intended to remove any barriers to foreign trade and investment as part of its goal to grow the Kenyan economy by double digits.
"We will measure the success of the reforms undertaken to improve on efficiency in government by the level of new investments in the country," he said. "We certainly welcome Unilever's planned investment.
"Improvement and expansion of the port of Mombasa, rail and road transport is a priority to my government to reduce the cost of doing business.”
The president also highlighted conservation efforts and a government focus on providing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy to help spur investment.
Cabinet secretary for industrialisation and enterprise development Adan Mohammed added: "Unilever are here for the long-haul and this investment shows that. But there is great interest in our country at the moment and that augurs well for the future of our economy.”
Unilever has 8400 hectares of tea plantations and seven factories in Kenya producing tea for the global market.