Kenya Adopts New SEZ Act Designed to Improve the Business Environment

Locus Founder Jean-Paul Gauthier with Kenyan Members of Parliament and other government officials at a retreat in Mombasa to discuss the new SEZ Bill from April 9-11, 2015.  Image courtesy of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

Since 2013, Locus Economica has been working closely with the Kenyan Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development and members of the Kenyan Parliament on the development of a new special economic zones (SEZ) program.  We’re pleased that this month, Kenya adopted its new SEZ Act, which should greatly improve business environment in Kenya, including at the Port of Mombasa.

We worked closely on the development of the SEZ Act alongside the Kenyan government by developing draft laws, commenting on suggested changes, and providing recommendations to help gather the necessary political support for the law.  The Kenyan government was committed to ensuring its SEZ program promoted growth by creating a strong, pro-market business environment.

The new SEZ Act features a dedicated SEZ Authority to administer almost all regulatory responsibilities in the SEZs, allowing for a much simpler and efficient interface between government and SEZ enterprises.  The SEZ Act also includes numerous protections and benefits for enterprises, including a strong dispute resolution system, fast licensing procedures, and duty-free importation of goods and services.

We are continuing our technical assistance to Kenya via contracts with the World Bank, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice.  Our work now centers on the development of a full suite of regulations to implement the SEZ Act.  The regulations will cover registration and licensing of businesses in the SEZs, designation of SEZs, SEZ governance and one-stop shop services, environment, labor, immigration, tax and customs administration, and investor-state dispute resolution.