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UK firms are seeking a market for their gadgets in Nairobi as the country races to contain insecurity that has battered its tourism sector in the last 12 months.
The 17 firms include manufacturers of security equipment targeting deals at Kenya’s airports and the national borders. Others are suppliers of satellite imaging, forensics, armoured vehicle usage and anti-improvised explosive devices (IED) services.
The British High Commission said the firms could strengthen the security apparatus and boost the fight against terror.
“This mission is the first of its kind, not only to Kenya, but to the East African region. We have with us today 17 companies represented by 31 delegates, all looking to do new business in Kenya,” the British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner said last week at an exhibition by the security firms in Nairobi.
The exhibition was organised by the Defence and Security Organisation, which is a unit of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) – the body in charge of trade promotion for British firms.
Kenya last year suffered a spate of gun and bombs attacks by Al-Shabaab militants from Somalia, with which it shares a 700km border.
The attacks hurt tourism, a key foreign exchange earner.
This has seen the government come up with the Security Laws (Amendments) Act 2014, which has been faulted as bent on violating human rights. Eight controversial clauses have been suspended by the High Court.
“That debate is perfectly natural, and most countries have grappled with striking a balance between democratic freedoms and a tough response to terrorism,” said Dr Turner on the laws.
The two-day exhibition attracted security firms IndigoVision, ATOM Training, Burton Safes, Cobham Surveillance, Concept Smoke Screen and CPN Tracking & Search.
“UK military co-operation with Kenya is worth Sh8.6bn a year, with the majority going directly into the Kenyan economy,” Dr Turner said.
The two countries have a long-standing defence co-operation agreement which allowed Britain to establish a training unit in Kenya, referred to as the British Army Training Unit Kenya in Nanyuki in the Rift Valley.
Around 10,000 British soldiers train in Kenya every year. The British Peace Support Team, based in Kenya, offers training to military forces in East Africa countries.
Interior principal secretary Monica Juma said stronger linkages with the UK companies would help boost measures that the government has put in place in recent months.
“I wish to call upon the exhibitors to make efforts beyond this forum and take keen interest in government tenders placed regularly on print and electronic media in Kenya,” said Ambassador Juma. “Government agencies are at various stages of procuring security equipment and technologies to enhance their capacity.”
The UK is the second-largest global exporter of defence equipment and services valued at about £9.8 billion (Sh1.3 trillion).
– Business Daily