Kenya looks for economic peace dividend after calm vote

Mon Apr 1, 2013 3:23am EDT
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* Tourism seen as vital source of employment

* Kenya needs hydrocarbon, infrastructure investment

* Businesses put post-2007 vote violence behind them

* Corruption, red tape still hinder business

By Drazen Jorgic and Joseph Akwiri

NAIROBI/MOMBASA, Kenya, April 1 (Reuters) - Kenya's tourism industry may be a swift winner from the election of Uhuru Kenyatta, owner of hotels and a vast business empire, as east Africa's biggest economy seeks to benefit from a vote that avoided a re-run of bloodshed of five years ago.

Tourism is a vital sector for the nation of more than 40 million people and was one of the worst hit after a disputed presidential poll in December 2007 led to weeks of tribal blood-letting, scaring away investors and tourists by the planeload.

This time, a row over who won the vote was led by lawyers instead of armed thugs. A reformed judiciary that reviewed the case commands more respect than it ever did, a victory for the rule of law that could also lift business confidence.

As well as seeking more visitors, Kenya wants oil and gas investment to develop hydrocarbon discoveries, funds for a major new port planned in Lamu and other infrastructure, and investors to boost the nation's position as a regional manufacturing hub.   Continued...