Kenya has attracted 187 billion shillings ($1 billion) in investments after introducing reforms in its mining sector to position it as a key driver of economic growth, President William Ruto said.   

The East African country has titanium, gold, and coal, as well as deposits of copper, niobium, and manganese, but the country has nevertheless a relatively modest and undeveloped mining sector.

Previous governments have focused mainly on the service industry and agriculture sector, with mining contributing far less than 10% to the country's GDP.        

The revival of the sector remains key to accelerating the processing of industrial minerals, said Ruto after opening the Voi Gemstone Value Addition and Marketing Centre in the eastern region of the country.    

"Our ambition is to transform the contribution of the mining sector and raise it to at least 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by implementing a number of measures," he said.    

"The level of investment that our revamped mining sector has attracted is estimated at 187 billion shillings ($1 billion), with the potential to create 32,786 direct jobs," said Ruto.    

Revenues from mineral royalties are set to increase sharply due to the lifting of a moratorium that had suspended mining activity, he said.     

Since its removal, there has been a spike in applications for prospecting, mining licences and permits, said the president.    

The government introduced a moratorium in 2019 to map mineral resources, streamline the industry, and verify the legitimacy of permits and activities. However, by prohibiting any new investments, the moratorium has frustrated investors.    

Kenya's mining laws were revised in 2016 with the introduction of the Mining Act, which was seen as an innovative law anticipated to revolutionise and grow the mining industry. 

However, the moratorium took effect shortly thereafter.     

The government will also support the expansion of artisanal mining, which Ruto said had been criminalized in the past but will be a game changer for creating jobs. 

(Editing by Seban Scaria )