Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, officially opened a new state-of-the-art World Bank Group office building in the Upper Hill area of Nairobi, at an event hosted by World Bank Country Director Diarietou Gaye, and IFC Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Oumar Seydion on December 11. President Kenyatta cut the ribbon and unveiled a plaque on the new Delta Center building that is jointly owned by the World Bank and IFC. The event was a symbol of increased cooperation by the World Bank Group as well as continued support to both Kenya and the Africa region.
Since the World Bank signed its first loan with Kenya in 1964, the country has benefited from close to $11 billion in interest-free credits, grants, partial-risk guarantees to the government and a wide range of investments and projects supporting private sector development from various institutions within the group.
In remarks at the event President Kenyatta said: “We would like to commend the Bank for contributing towards Kenya’s economic growth since the signing of the first loan agreement in 1964. We have come far together and we will continue to work together.” He thanked the Bank for its support, especially in times of need.
IFC has a portfolio investment of $767 million in Kenya through projects in agribusiness, education, health, finance, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors. IFC maintains several advisory services programs in Kenya as part of its regional investment of $65 million in annual program activities.
In remarks made remotely, Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, said: “The time is right to show that the World Bank Group supports Kenya’s achievements. We are ready to do more so Kenya can enjoy growth led by a competitive economy that provides jobs and opportunities for Kenyans.”
Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Regional Vice-President for Africa, was on hand for the event. He said, “The World Bank Group’s engagement in Kenya has strengthened substantially, cutting across all major sectors of the economy. The footprint of the Bank Group is visible in a wide range of activities that have contributed to Kenya’s growth and transformation.”
As of 2013, World Bank has made a commitment of $4.3 billion in 23 national and six regional projects in Kenya, focused on competitiveness - transport, energy, and water - and vulnerability and resilience - urban, health, and social protection.
The office in Nairobi is the second largest building owned by the World Bank Group after its headquarters in Washington DC. Previously IFC and World Bank were operating from six different locations. The new building hosts nearly 300 staff working on national, regional and global programs. The IFC office in Nairobi also provides support to activities in Kenya, and the Southern and Eastern African subregions. The Delta Center will host the World Bank’s Global Center for Conflict and Development, the Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia Country office and the Regional Controller’s Loans office.