Toyota Group to expand operations in Kenya

10:59, March 03, 2010      

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The Toyota Group on Tuesday launched a formal process of expanding its operations and establishing a regional headquarters in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi following a request by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga two weeks ago.

Speaking in Nairobi during a courtesy call on the prime minister, representatives of the company who arrived in the country on Monday, said they have identified some 60,000 square meters of land along Mombasa Road in Nairobi from which they plan to launch their expanded operations.

Makoto Hattori, executive director of Toyota Tsusho, the trading wing of the Toyota Group, said he has scheduled meetings with Treasury on Wednesday to iron out issues.

During the meeting, Hattori said Toyota intends to begin with increased production of motorcycles locally for Kenyan and regional markets.

Odinga said he looks forward to expanding Toyota operations in Kenya, saying it would create much needed job opportunities for the youth.

He said Toyota's agreement to expand its operations in Nairobi and make Kenya its regional hub is a vote of confidence in the future of the country's economy.

The prime minister said Kenya is a vantage position from which Toyota can penetrate the regional and entire African market. He asked relevant ministries to accord the company necessary assistance for it to set up in the shortest time possible.

"We are in competition with our immediate neighbors and with the rest of the world. We will do everything possible to enable Toyota and all other businesses that want to set up here to do so with great ease," the prime minister said.

Odinga said the government will provide money for the creation of Special Economic Zones in the next financial year.

He said the government is also finalizing a law on Public Private Partnership to pave way for greater cooperation with the private sector in economic development.

The prime minister welcomed Toyota's plan to seek investments in the energy sector beginning with a power plant in Garissa in northern Kenya.

He said electricity in Garissa would spur investment along the Tana River and breathe life into places like Daadab, Wajir and Hola.

"Garissa is strategically situated on the Tana River basin and it also has good road linkage with Nairobi. But people have not invested there because of lack of power. This is a case where supply will stimulate demand. The region may be desolate now, but the moment we provide power, investors will move in," he said.

Hattori announced that the company would station an expert in green energy to Kenya from next June to explore potential in the sector.

Toyota's exploratory mission follows a visit by the prime minister to Japan last month where he appealed to the company to expand its operations in Kenya by establishing a fully-fledge assembly plant to supply the region.

Odinga and his delegation visited the Toyota Group at its headquarters in Nagoya, Japan, where he made the request.

The president of Toyota Tsusho Corporation is expected in the country next month for more discussions.

Source: Xinhua
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