The International Finance Corporation (IFC) provided technical support through its Kenya Competitiveness Enhancement Programme (KCEP) to the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Authority to launch a one-stop-shop web portal www.sezauthority.go.ke in August 2021,
IFC is a member of the World Bank Group. The new portal has boosted communication to potential investors on opportunities available in the SEZs. It is also helping efforts to raise the level of transparency and provision of services to current and potential investors.
The site is a big pillar of support to the Government efforts to ensure investors are fully informed on available infrastructure, customs services, regulations and fiscal incentives for the 10 SEzs. This has enhanced Kenya’s competitiveness in manufacturing and trade.
SEZs are a key pillar for Kenya’s industrialisation agenda, value addition, and platform to leverage and catalyse private sector investment. The Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development is working with the SEZ Authority to boost the private sector’s contribution to GDP and scale-up investment generation, especially in manufacturing.
The portal is a repository that allows visitors to learn and interact in real-time with the Authority on cross-cutting issues. It avails information on opportunities and incentives including investor road maps and facilities, investment schemes and sectors and administrative and tax incentives.
Via the portal, investors can apply to lease land inside SEZ parks, register for news updates, subscribe to the SEZ Authority bulletin, access the resource center, and make online applications.
The number of simplified tax incentives for investors in the SEZs were increased in 2021, providing clarity on the operations of various actors, including to guide the movement of people, goods and services within the special economic zones.
The incentives remove duties and other charges on the import of any goods or services to a special economic zone. Also removes are trade-related restrictions, including quantitative restrictions on the same.
Firms operating in the SEZs are freed from minimum export requirements and quotas when exporting products from the zones.
The Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) was established in 2015 by an Act of Parliament (Special Economic Zones Act No. 16 of 2015). The institution is responsible for attracting, facilitating and retaining domestic and foreign direct investments in Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
The Authority serves as the regulator of both public and private SEZs in Kenya and exists to create an enabling environment for investors through the development of integrated infrastructure facilities, as well as the creation of incentives that eliminate the barriers to doing business in Eastern Africa’s most vibrant economic hub.
Through a carefully set up and monitored system, businesses at the SEZs enjoy tax incentives including exemption from value added tax (VAT) exemption on supplies of goods and services to enterprises, recued corporate tax of 10 per cent from 30 per cent for the first 10 years of operation rising to a maximum of 15 per cent for the next 10 years.
The SEZ programme is initially being piloted in Mombasa, Naivasha, Lamu and Kisumu.
Micro & Small Enterprises Authority
The Ministry has facilitated the operationalisation of the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority that will help grow the SME sector and support Entrepreneurship that is a major sector in creating jobs.