The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has today re-affirmed its commitment to continue pushing for improved ease of doing business in the country and the region, even as the country records most reforms in Africa. The pledge was made during the launch of the Doing Business 2022 Action Plan Development Workshop, organized by the Ministry of East African Community, through the Department of Business reforms and Transformation.
“In this last decade to the Vision 2030, it is crucial that we focus on private sector driven economic transformation to achieve our target of a rapidly industrializing middle-income economy. We must maximize on the many opportunities that have emerged at local, regional and international level for local industries to flourish such as the wider market under Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” said KEPSA Deputy CEO Martha Cheruto.
Since its establishment in 2003, KEPSA has managed to establish strong partnership and engagement platforms across all levels of government. In 2014, KEPSA identified the Doing Business Index (DBI) as a crucial indicator for business in Kenya, through which President Kenyatta, during the 2014 Presidential Round Table promised to deliver a conducive environment for the private sector to thrive. Then, Kenya was in the bottom ranking at position 136 out of 190 countries; on the country’s pro-activeness to address doing business challenges.
Kenya has made momentous strides, currently ranking at position 56 globally and 3 in sub-Sahara Africa. This has been made possible through implementation of programs that ensure growth of business and social – economic development of the country as well as the continued Government-Private Sector dialogue on cross-cutting policy issues affecting private sector development.
“We’re moving in the right direction, such as the increased investment into the development of adequate and efficient infrastructure that has enabled the continued improvement of the business environment in Kenya. I particularly urge the County Governments to find sustainable solutions to enable businesses to operate easily within their respective counties, especially those with branches across the country. This way, we will encourage expansion and boost business growth,” said Hon. Adan Mohamed, the Cabinet Secretary for East African Community and Regional Development while officially opening the workshop.
“I want to assure you that the Government is committed on working on reforms to make it even easier for the business community to thrive, thereby deepening investments and attracting capital that is much needed,” noted Hon. Ken Obura, Chief Administrative Secretary at the Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development.
Regardless of the set-back in 2020 with the temporary suspension of the Doing Business Report and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the government has remained committed to the reform agenda to facilitate businesses and improve investment attractiveness.
“Despite the pandemic, we enacted 3 acts of parliament; the Business Laws Amendment Acts No.1 & No.2 of 2020 as well as the Small Claims Amendment Act. We rolled out ten legal notices to facilitate various services in the transfer of property, in facilitating imports and exports, at the judiciary and many other areas and rolled out the first ever small claims court in our country’s history. Together with our partners in the UK, we rolled out a National Regulatory tool-kit,” noted Dr. Kevit Desai, the Principal Secretary for East African community (EAC).
Mr. Polycarp Igathe, Group Chief Commercial Officer, Equity Group Holdings commended the government’s efforts and the milestones achieved towards improving the business environment in Kenya, while calling on the private sector to change the sentiment towards applauding the wins and embracing the opportunities that exist in public-private dialogues towards a change in culture.
The Private Sector’s commitment comes only a year short of the ambitious 2022 target to rank Kenya in position 50. To achieve this, KEPSA will continue supporting businesses with opportunities for training, networking, financial linkages, mentorships and coaching, access to markets, value chain development, and investment opportunities with partners around the world.
“We have learned valuable lessons that will enable us strengthen our systems and cushion against any future disruptions, while also improving efficiency and turnaround time in service delivery at both national and county level,” reiterated Patrick Maingi, KEPSA Public-Private Dialogue Specialist.
Kenya has made remarkable improvement in indicators such as “protecting minority investors” which ranks 1st globally, thanks to reforms through the Companies Act of 2015, “accessing credit” which ranks 4th globally, and “resolving insolvency” at position 50 globally.
However, there’s urgent need to improve on the areas that are doing poorly, such as “registering property” (No. 134), and “starting a business” (No. 129). Others include “trading across borders” (No. 117), “dealing with construction permits” (No. 105), “paying taxes” (No. 94), “enforcing contracts” (No. 89) and “getting electricity” (No. 70).
The “Ease of Doing Business Index” ranks countries against each other based on how the regulatory environment is conducive to business operations, and how the country does in terms of protection of property rights. The workshop presents the opportunity to dig deeper and review each indicator holistically, to identify and address the main pain points, and seek to build back better after the Coronavirus pandemic disruptions.