KEPSA Foundation, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI) and Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in partnership with Milestones Resource Solutions held a press briefing on 11th June 2019 at Heron Portico Hotel. The briefing was towards the Launch of the Africa Business Ethics Conference (ABEC), which is a two-day conference scheduled to be held in Nairobi on 25th -26th June 2019 on improving ethics to increase profitability.
ABEC is intended to discuss practical solutions for the private sector in Africa to combat corruption and explore opportunities for collaboration between the stakeholders represented with a view of private sector taking a lead role. The desired impact of ABEC 2019 is to see rising standards of business practice for efficiency to drive cross border trade, business growth, economic stabilities, and sustainability of SMEs.
KEPSA Foundation Chair, Arch. Lee Karuri said that corruption epitomizes weakness in our ethical standards and integrity. He added that to the economy, corruption undermines development and public service delivery by diverting development resources to the personal gain of a few individuals; distorting public expenditure; discouraging foreign investors; reducing economic efficiency and slowing down administrative processes thereby making the implementation of government policies ineffective.
In his remarks, KEPSA Foundation Vice Chair Eng. Patrick Obath said that corruption increases the cost of doing business; creates unfair playing ground and curtails efforts towards efficiency-improvement innovations that could further promote profitability of businesses. He added that although Africa continues to make strides in many spheres of economic development, her leap has constantly been curtailed by corruption.
KEPSA Deputy CEO, Ms. Rachel Muthoga, noted that the conference had come in the wake of a Corruption Risk Mapping (CRM) and Anti-Bribery Compliance Assessment conducted in November 2018 in the Private Sector by KEPSA and CIPE that mapped out 1200 private businesses. She added that 85% of respondents reported that there was corruption in various forms in private sector business operations across Kenya. However, the risk was highest among small businesses compared to medium-sized and large businesses with the prevalent forms of corruption being bribery, fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, extortion, abuse of office, favouritism and procurement related misconducts.
Country Director, Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Mr. Ben Kiragu remarked that the conference would be part of the ongoing efforts around the Ouagadougou Declaration; developed in partnership with the World Movement for Democracy and the US Chamber of Commerce that brings together the private sector, government, and civil society to find new ways to address societal problems.
The Embassy of Finland in Nairobi in conjunction with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), NAILAB, the National Council for Population Development (NCPD) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) jointly hosted and participated in a panel discussion on “Health Innovations: Where are the Women and Girls?” on Wednesday June 12th, 2019 at the University of Nairobi – Manu Chandaria Auditorium, Centre for Performing Arts. The thought provoking conversation on Bridging the Gender Divide in Health Innovations was attended by KEPSA Deputy CEO Ms. Rachel Muthoga, the Finnish Ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Erik Lundeberg, NAILAB CEO Mr. Sam Gichuru, NCPD Director-General Dr. Josephine Kibaru – Mbae and UNFPA Kenya Representative Dr. Ademola Olajide.
In her comments, Ms. Muthoga underscored the importance of women having representation in Corporate Boards and in Management Leadership. She stated that women in the corporate world needed a seat at the high table of shared opportunities amongst the men. She noted that women in the innovation space have the opportunity to take advantage of the larger spaces available to operate within even as the challenge existed of how to bring them into these spaces of growth. Ms. Muthoga opined that there ultimately needs to be an open and conscious decision to open doors for women.
H.E. Mr. Lundeberg, in his comments stated the urgent need to focus on social innovations where for instance in Finland, both men and women are educated on how to take care of a child and are given a baby box that helps the parents take care of their child in the first year of the child’s life. He added that the transforming potential of innovations can therefore significantly improve key Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) indicators that have over time been relatively poor especially among women and girls.
Mr. Gichuru expressed that in his experience, technical know-how, product market reach and self-confidence all contributed towards successful innovations whilst noting that innovations do not always equate to technology. He stated that there was the need to support women to overcome the fear of failure.
Dr. Kibaru-Mbae contributed that the gender divide has been indeed been shortened but it still very much exists. She expressed that recent trends and the latest developments point out an under-representation of women in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design. She additionally commented that if these dimensions remain untouched by women, they would ultimately prevent the development of gender-responsive innovations.
Dr. Olajide maintained that there was the need to be focused, deliberate and more importantly, disruptive in order to make a tangible difference in the society. She additionally stressed the urgent need to walk the talk and deliver the much needed results.
The panellists agreed that there was need for intertwining policies that support both men and women while moving the innovation conversations to rural areas where such conversation was much needed. It was also agreed that there was the need to bridge the gender divide in the innovation ecosystem, particularly in health matters. The panellists noted that women are seen more as consumers of innovation rather than creators which stemmed naturally from masculine socialization and culture.
Females contribute to almost half of humanity and, therefore, half of its capabilities. A flourishing society with sustainable human development today can never be imagined without the active participation of women. Gone are the days when women were considered inferior or the weaker sex.
KEPSA in collaboration with Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) and Chambre De Commerce Luxembourg hosted the Kenya – Luxembourg Economic Forum which focused on opportunities in ICT, Infrastructure and Eco-Technologies on Thursday June 13th, 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nairobi.
The Economic Forum was opened by Mr. Stephen Odua, the Director of Private Sector Development at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives on behalf of the Principal Secretary, Ms. Betty Maina.
General Manager- Investment Promotion, KenInvest, Mr. Pius Rotich welcomed the participants to the forum as well as the Luxembourg delegation. In his remarks he highlighted the role of KenInvest in facilitating investment in Kenya through policy advocacy, investment promotion and facilitation and after care to investors growing their businesses in Kenya. He promoted Kenya as an ideal investment country for reasons including; Kenya being the hub of East Africa, robust growth in Gross Domestic Product which is anticipated to accelerate to 6% in 2019 from 5% and favourable business environment through the bilateral and multilateral agreements that Kenya has signed including AGOA and EPA.
Mr. Stephen Odua noted that the forum was a prime opportunity for Kenya and Luxembourg to reflect on the friendship that existed between the two countries and on the need for the two countries to invest together in realization of the Big Four Agenda of which Kenya was ready to support. He further highlighted that the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Treaty (AfCFTA) that came into force on the 30th of May 2019 is expected to spur intra–African trade and stimulate competitiveness of African Industry which would have a multiplier effects on Luxembourg. He also reported that Kenya was ranked the 3rd most improved economy in Africa for two years running having jumped 44 places to stand at position 61 out of 190 economies in the World from the position of 136 in 2017.
KEPSA Trustee, Ms. Lucy Karume, shared that KEPSA was excited to form a partnership with Luxembourg and looked forward to linkages that will turn around the trade volumes and Foreign Direct Investment flows between Kenya and Luxembourg. She highlighted that Kenya has strong, well developed private sector including the regions most advanced ICT, manufacturing, transport and financial sectors that offer excellent opportunities for investment. She noted that Kenya has a wide range of business opportunities for well positioned companies with strategic objectives of tapping into the growing potential of emerging markets in East and Central Africa. The strong, well developed private sector including the regions most advanced ICT, manufacturing, transport and financial sectors offered excellent opportunities for investment which she highlighted to be among the opportunities offered by the Private Sector for investment. She concluded her remarks by noting that KEPSA would continue to work with KenInvest among other stakeholders to facilitate Luxembourg’s linkages and investments into the country.
Mr. Jeannot Erpelding, the Director of International Affairs, Chambre De Commerce Luxembourg commented that Kenyan population is eighty times more than Luxembourg’s. He indicated that Luxembourg was exporting more to Kenya and urged Kenyan investors to take advantage of the opportunity in Luxembourg to promote export and investment whilst thanking the hosting team for putting the meeting together. He highlighted the strength of Luxembourg as a country that was open, dynamic and reliable. Luxembourg as a country is both multilingual and multicultural as it is surrounded by countries such as Germany, Belgium and France and a majority of its working population commute from the neighbouring countries during the day to travel to work in Luxembourg. English is also widely spoken as well as German and French. He noted that Luxembourg was ranked 3rd after Singapore and Hong Kong in the ICC markets index in 2017. He further noted that Luxembourg exports 65% of its goods and services. Further to that, Luxembourg is considered a logistics hub in the European market as it serves 75 destinations at the Luxembourg Airport and 12 European Institutions.
Mr. Erpelding introduced a coterie of 14 Business Organizations that formed his delegation. These were AWTOL, Broadcasting Centre Europe, Boson Energy, Cargolux Airlines International, Koosmik, Luxembourg School of Business, Onomo International, SECO Expert, Simon Christiansen, Steelshed Solutions, Suricate Solutions, Sustain, Themis Lex, Tractel and Uption.
Luxembourg is a world renowned International business location and a secure and reliable hub for cross-border activities in a number of fields including finance, logistics, the automotive sector, ICT, life sciences and clean technologies. It is situated at the heart of several major EU markets and is considered to be the gateway to Europe and beyond.
KEPSA in partnership with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) organized a breakfast meeting on 13th June 2019 at the Intercontinental Hotel to update members on the progress of the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) and the National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP).
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries in partnership with the County Governments and other stakeholders has been engaging in the development of the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) and the National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP). The purpose of ASTGS and NAIP is to guide the growth of the sector in line with constitutional and legal frameworks, policies, the devolved system of governance as well as regional and international commitments. The ASTGS was subjected to stakeholder validation on 29th January 2019 to pave way for its implementation. It takes cognizant of the fact that the transformation of the agriculture sector depends on a collaborative approach with the private sector.
In his opening remarks KEPSA Trustee, Mr. Bill Lay appreciated the Ministry of Agriculture and AGRA for giving the private sector yet another opportunity to engage on ASTGS and explore linkages to the Big 4 Agenda on Food & Nutrition Security. He observed that the main economic activities in the country were centered on Agriculture which contributes more than half of the GDP (directly and indirectly) employing over 60% of Kenya’s workforce, while supporting a majority of the households, especially in the rural areas.
Mr. Chris Wilson, Chair KEPSA Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Sector board presented a brief overview of the Agriculture Sector. He highlighted that the agriculture sector was the largest contributor to the economy even though it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. He underscored the significant contribution of small-scale farmers noting that they are the majority in Kenya consisting about 2 million maize farmers, 0.5 million dairy farmers, and about 0.6 million sugarcane farmers.
Chris reiterated the need to work on agriculture sector governance; enhance self- regulation mechanisms; create a transparent and fair system for cess, tax, and levies administration; and information sharing between the Government and the private sector. On recent regulations developed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Chris observed that the contentious issues could have been resolved sooner through proper consultations with the private sector.
Chris concluded by stating that KEPSA was open to creation of an umbrella body to champion sector interests and summarized the key expectations for the meeting as: To help understand what next for ASTGS; Role of private sector as foreseen by the Ministry; Incentives for the private sector; underpinning policies and legislation to bring life to ASTGS; and understanding the forms monitoring and evaluation will take.
Boaz Keizire, Head of Policy and Advocacy AGRA speaking on agriculture transformation and the journey to self- reliance noted that across Africa private sector advocacy is often dominated by big players who are disconnected with farmers at the village level. The private sector often believes that strategies belong to the government, but this doesn’t have to be the case. He highlighted that AGRA support for the ASTGS was designed to lay emphasis on private sector needs while directing the private sector where to invest since public policies have to speak to the private sector for better outcomes.
Prof. Hamadi Boga, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Irrigation made a presentation on the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) & linkages to the Big 4 Agenda. While appreciating KEPSA and AGRA for organizing the event, he observed that the government cannot succeed without the private sector and that a fair and reasonable framework was required to facilitate business. He observed that the self- regulation was the way to go as bureaucracy slows down business processes without cause. He added that the government was working with regulatory agencies on ways to enhance self- regulation and that he will ensure that other State Departments are roped in future private sector engagements.
Prof Hamadi informed the meeting the Ministry was currently working on subsidy reforms and that the ASTGS has 9 flagships aligned to CAADP, SDGs, Vision 2030, MTP III, the Constitution, and the Big 4 Agenda. The pillars focus on targeting the small-scale farmers, increasing agricultural output and value addition and boosting household food resilience. He informed the meeting that the Agriculture Policy was under Cabinet consideration and that it has addressed sector challenges in detail including low productivity, information sharing, and sector coordination. He further informed the meeting that the Warehouse Receipt System Bill would soon be enacted to law.
On the opportunities for the private sector, Prof Hamadi informed the meeting that the government was working at modalities of leasing Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) land to the private sector for large scale agricultural production; the Ministry is also looking at developing six agro-processing parks using the PPP model. On the other hand, He informed participants that the Ministry was working to reform the fertilizer subsidy program and Strategic Food Reserve by December 2019 to ensure that they don’t overcrowd the private sector. Prof Hamadi challenged the private sector to clarify the position on biotechnology noting that gene editing was a viable tool to address the pests, disease and the productivity challenge facing Kenyan farming communities.
Mr. John Macharia, Country Manager AGRA, during plenary noted that the government has a detailed plan in the ASTGS and that moving forward, the private sector should come up with their own plan to engage the government on a value-based conversation. He also observed that the government was receptive, but the private sector needs to work together and bring evidence-based solutions for covering entire value chains and MSMEs in the agriculture sector.
KEPSA Devolution Sector board led by its Chair, Mr. Hillary Onami, paid a courtesy call to the Society of Clerks at The Table on 14th June 2019 at Transnational Plaza, Nairobi CBD. The main aim of the meeting was to forge a partnership to ensure devolution is efficient and effective while promoting businesses in the counties.
SOCATT was registered in 2014 with the main focus of improving the performance of County Assemblies by strengthening the capacities of the County Assembly Service. Welcoming the KEPSA delegation, Mr Kamau Aidi, the Chairperson SOCATT(K) and the Clerk of the Kirinyaga County Assembly put across the need for deep stakeholder engagement especially with the private sector to ensure policies and legislations that are pro-business are enacted at counties attracting business to the counties in the back drop of devolved governance.
Mr. Chris Kinyanjui, the Secretary General SOCATT (K) and the Clerk of the Muranga County Assembly flagged out the minimal public participation of private Sector members in county legislations. Mr. Kinyanjui acknowledged that the partnership with KEPSA will propel information sharing thus increase in public participation on policies and legislations. Additionally, KEPSA was invited to engage with the chairpersons of the various Budget and Trade committees in the counties to entrench private sector views in the county budgets curbing pending bills challenge going forward.
Mr. Hillary Onami, Chair KEPSA Devolution Sector Board, appreciated the positive turnaround of policies to support businesses that has happened over a period of time. However, to sustain the turnaround and eliminate punitive policies to businesses, Mr. Onami proposed partnering with SOCATT in various fronts among them;
- KEPSA’s involvement in the county budget-making process
- Targeted capacity building in CAF through the diverse sectorial expertise in KEPSA
- KEPSA’s incorporation into implementing Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms at the county
- Partnering in Research themes and implementation of programs through development partners to ensure effective and efficient governance at counties.
In conclusion, it was agreed that KEPSA and SOCATT will formulate a structured methodology of engagement which will guarantee continuity and ensure issues raised are tackled moving forward. Moreover, SOCATT agreed to be involving KEPSA from time to time in training and capacity building to its members when they have workshops.