Business round table tackles competitiveness

August 5, 2008
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, NAIROBI, August 5 – The government on Tuesday announced a raft of measures that it is undertaking to enhance the country’s competitiveness.

At a Round Table meeting with the private sector, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Kenya had to devise new ways of doing business if it hopes to achieve its social, political and economic targets.

He told the meeting, which was attended by more than ten cabinet ministers, key officials and 70 representatives from the private sector, that all ministries would work together to eliminate the bottlenecks that discourage investors from putting their money in the country.

“We want to, and have to, make Kenya the destination of choice for our own business community, and for the outside world,” the PM affirmed.

He singled out poor infrastructure, bureaucracy, corruption and insecurity as some of the barriers that the government intended to address as a matter of urgency to make the country attractive for investment.

“We are going to break down the decision-making barriers that have hampered progress in the past and get diverse sectors working together behind a consensus, which will make Vision 2030 a reality,” said Odinga.

He revealed that there were plans to concession the Northern Corridor, modernise the Port of Mombasa and venture in generating renewable energy such as nuclear power, as a way to develop Kenya’s infrastructure.

“Indeed, we will shortly undertake a feasibility study to determine whether the generation of nuclear power is a viable option for us,” he disclosed.

The Japanese government has already disbursed Sh15 billion, while the government will contribute Sh5 billion to modernise the Port.

Turning to the controversial issue of land, Odinga noted that the asset in Kenya is very costly and called on land owners to make it accessible for development purposes.

“Can we succeed in our plans if an investor has to contend with an acre of land costing a quarter of a million shillings?” he posed.

The Premier pledged that the grand coalition government would build a seamless relationship between itself and the private sector to drive the economy to greater heights.

“There will from now on be regular consultations between us which will ensure that businesses will not be taken by surprise by new policies. We will be talking together regularly to nip disagreements from becoming crises,” he vowed.

The Round Table was the first in a series of meetings that will be held quarterly.

“Such partnership is the only way to mobilise the vast human energy and financial resources that remain untapped among our very enterprising people,” Odinga reckoned.

The PM also announced that he would hold a media briefing on Thursday to spell out resolutions that would be agreed upon after the end of the closed-door meeting.

“We are Team Kenya gathered in this room, determined to build a New Kenya. We need every Kenyan to join us in the great enterprise we are launching today (Tuesday). Nothing should stop us from succeeding,” he enthused.

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