We must foster conducive business environment

Friday, May 21st, 2021 00:00 |
Office space. Photo/Courtesy

Kenya’s ranking in ease of doing business in recent years has been impressive.

The World Bank’s recent rating put Kenya at position 56, a significant improvement from number 136 six years ago — posting one of the most improved countries in Africa and globally. 

The country leads her peers in the region and Uganda, our biggest trading partner, is ranked at position 116 with Tanzania ranking poorly at position 141.

We are ahead of other African economic giants such as South Africa and Nigeria that are ranked positions 82 and 131, respectively. 

Although Kenya’s good ranking directly results from vibrant measures she has introduced to cut down bureaucracy in the government in the recent years, we can still post better results and reap benefits by initiating several quick fixes. 

Things are not very rosy at the moment because of the shrinking manufacturing index, high-cost of electricity, high corruption and high tax regime, which have made experts to warn that the good ranking may deteriorate to oscillate around 60 in 2021 and 80 in 2022.  

One of the critical lessons the country has learnt during the Covid-19 pandemic is the need to leverage on Information and Technology to do business. 

The government should encourage all its key agencies to automate and also create collaborative mechanisms with the private sector, which have also made huge strides in automating their processes and operations. 

Critical departments that have automated their operations have vital lessons to offer.

For instance, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is rolling out an Integrated Customs Management System in June this year, which will make cargo clearance through various entry points paperless and ease movement of the cargo across the borders. 

There is also a need to harmonise cross-border trade related activities and removal of non-tariff barriers among the partner states.

When the Covid-19 affected flow of cargo through Malaba and Busia borders, which connects Kenya to Uganda, our biggest transit market, with queues stretching to over 50 kilometers, the East African partner states moved with speed to carry out joint initiatives that restored order. 

For instance, through the support of various players, the East African Community Secretariat was able to develop a Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Tracking System, which can issue drivers electronic Covid-19 certificates acceptable across the region. 

The support targeting small traders is also crucial. A culture of entrepreneurship and creativity is needed to cure abject poverty among the youth. 

This can be done by establishing more incubation centers among the youth, supporting the youth in accessing finances, and creating a supportive policy for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and startups. 

This can be enhanced by funds already available for youth, providing markets by procuring more from the youth and most importantly paying for government supplies both at county and national levels without unnecessary delays to enable the youth businesses to remain afloat. 

  Also, private sector and development partners must be involved in employment and skills development.

The private sector needs to be strongly linked to the education and training systems to meet labour market needs.

 Companies should be given incentives to offer young people apprenticeships, internships, mentorships and even skills certification programs.   —The writer is a public  policy analyst —[email protected]

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