Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Attack or not, Foreign companies will not give in.They will stay in Kenya

International companies with regional headquarters in Kenya said on Wednesday that a deadly militant attack on an upscale Nairobi hotel complex would not scare them away from a city that has long been East Africa’s business hub.

At least 21 people were killed and about 700 evacuated under fire after gunmen stormed the upscale dusitD2 hotel and office complex on Tuesday.

Hotel guests and workers from companies like Visa Inc had to hole up for several hours while the attackers were hunted down and killed.

The raid echoed a 2013 assault by Islamist militants on an Israel-built shopping centre in the same neighbourhood that killed 67 people: Images beamed across the world during that assault dented Kenya’s image abroad and scared off tourists, damaging a vital sector of the economy.

Among Nairobi’s other potential deterrents are sporadic political violence that erupts during elections.

But companies say the latest attack won’t alter their plans to work in the region’s richest city.

The attack was claimed by Somali group Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate fighting to topple Somalia’s weak UN-backed government and impose strict Islamic law.

Neighbouring Kenya has been a periodic target for Shabaab after sending troops into Somalia to try to create a buffer zone along the porous border.

But robust economic expansion, estimated at 6.0 percent last year, has helped boost investor sentiments, although rising government debt levels have stoked concerns.

Snehar Shah, managing director for East Africa at British solar power firm Azuri Technologies, pointed out that Kenya was not the only country that had suffered attacks.

“We still believe that Nairobi is a hub for the region and we are very committed to being here,” Shah told Reuters.

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