Kenya has over the decades retained a vibrant and resilient private sector that has sustained our economy and given at an edge over the competition in the region. During the Grand Coalition Government, the Round Table with the private sector created a forum for much-needed collaboration with the public sector. This enabled the two sectors to clear critical bottlenecks for the good of business and the nation. Going forward, I would like to see the country empower the Private Sector to make Kenya a trading nation, identified with specific products and services in the African and global export trade market. Increased exports will increase our revenues, create jobs, give us foreign currency reserves, boost our national savings and drive our international competitiveness. To realize this ambition, I would push for the following measures:
- Government to pursue an industrialization policy that is export-minded and that allows the private sector to drive our export agenda.
- Government supports the private sector to lead a shift from exporting raw materials and agricultural produce to industrial manufacturing with eyes on the international markets. In some 15 years, we can shift the country from light industry labor-intensive production to heavy and chemical industries producing things like iron and steel and IT products for local and global markets.
- Government sets up a body dedicated to long term planning and regular review meetings on our international trade or export agenda.
- Government-sponsored Monthly Trade Promotion meetings, bringing together highest-level government officials, key ministries, exporters, researchers, education institutions and trading companies for exchange of ideas, information, goals and to improve coordination and mutual understanding between private and public sectors.
- Government unveils an award scheme for excellent exporters and maps out how to push up their share of African and world market and contribution to the local and global economy.
- Government offers aggressive support to private sector through tax breaks, subsidized credit, state guarantees for private sector borrowing, tariff exemptions and preferential access to imported inputs required to produce exports.
- Government to pursue a deliberate policy of targeting indu tries with realistic chances of penetrating the global market based on prevailing situation in the country and the world.
- Government to be aggressive in helping Kenyan companies and consortiums win contracts in foreign markets.
- Government to pay particular attention to helping small and medium sized companies overcome challenges in overseas markets, give them export support services and diplomacy interventions.
- Government to revamp the Export Promotion Council, particularly its capacity to provide informational and institutional services to domestic producers and exporters.
- Government to provide firms with economic diplomacy and support them through political and economic intelligence, introduction and advice to exploit opportunities in new markets.
- Government to provide a level playing field between small and medium-size firms and the big corporations so that big corporations do not thrive while small ones, which could be our future multinationals, struggle.
- Government to continue investing in Education, Training, Research and Development, efficient bureaucracy and strong financial systems in support of the private sector.
- Government to invest in Knowledge Economy to help invigorate the ICT Sector and make it engine of growth and become a source of foreign exchange.
- Government to maintain constant and well-functioning coordination between public and private sectors, open economy orientation and policy that supports, not handicaps, private sectors and exporters.
Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, EGH
26 September, 2021