Merkel urges Kenya to fight graft to woo investors


German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Kenya to step up its fight against graft to help lure investment from her country, which is seeking to raise its profile in Africa in the face of China’s growing clout.

Merkel used her first official visit to East Africa’s biggest economy to praise Kenya for progress on political and judicial reforms, but said more needed to be done against corruption to woo investors from her country.
“Today, we talked about the importance of fighting corruption,” Merkel said on the lawn of State House — the official residence of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Reuters reports.
“Our intention is to further intensify and deepen economic ties between Kenya and Germany. You need a secure and safe framework if you are to secure a greater number of investors from abroad,” she said, offering Kenya 140 million euros for projects over a three-year period.

Germany is seeking to expand its influence on a continent where China has made big gains as it seeks to secure energy, minerals and food. The West has accused Beijing of going easy on Africa over corruption and governance issues.

Kenya slipped in the rankings of Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index last year to 154th out of 178 countries. The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission has said graft and misuse of government funds swallow up to 40 percent of gross domestic product.

Kibaki took power on an anti-corruption platform, but several ministries have been involved in corruption scandals under his watch, with some ministers facing graft charges. None has been convicted so far.

After Kenya, Merkel will visit the continent’s top oil producers, Angola and Nigeria, where Germany will be seeking a foothold for energy supply deals.

The prospect of growing Chinese economic influence is welcomed by African countries. Africans expect China to be a more important economic partner than the United States or European Union in 10 years, according to a survey last year.

Merkel said Germany would open an office in Kenya to expedite investments and was keen to take part in the planned building of a port on the Kenyan coastal town of Lamu, the kind of strategic infrastructure projects increasingly taken up by China across the continent.