Kenya urged to devise anti recession policies

April 21, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21 – The government has been urged to come up with appropriate policies that will assist businesses and the masses survive the negative effects of the global recession.

While admitting that Kenya may not be as hard hit by the effects of the recession, Head of Planning at Young and Rubicam Brands Europe, Middle East and Africa, Simon Silvester, said it would be prudent that such policies were in place if a country were to survive the storm.

Mr Silvester is advising that companies need to put more focus on what adds more value to their products and cut the stuff that makes no sense to customers.

“For instance if you are a mobile phone company, stop focusing more on the offers you are giving your customers and concentrate on your core business,” Mr Silvester said.

He noted that Kenya may better survive the recession because it is an emerging market with a young population that may not force the government to hugely increase its taxes to raise more funds to pay pensioners.

“In some countries in Europe and America there are huge numbers of pensioners which may force their governments to raise funds through taxation,” Mr Silvester said.

He recommended that the best way forward was for both businesses and individuals to take advantage of any opportunities that are presented during a recession.

“A company like Google grew during the worst technology recession in 1999 and became a formidable force as result of taking advantage of the opportunities that arose during the time,” he said.

The manager said this can best be done through taking advantage especially of new technologies like computers and mobile phones that have been proven to especially increase efficiencies and the cost of doing business in the country.

“A study by London School of Business has shown that taking advantage of mobile phones can grow an economy by 0.6 percent year on year,” Mr Silvester said.

He further noted that innovation is another good way to survive the crisis.

“If you are a company, think efficiency. There have got to be things that computers can do for you much more efficiently today and make your business very different.”

“And then for brands its about simplifying things, its about keeping your nerve, so many big companies panic in a recession they get caught up in the head lights where internal processes no longer work and they turn away from consumers which is not right.” 

While a number of companies in Kenya have resorted to retrenching their staff and closing down some subsidiaries, Mr Silvester observed that this may not be the absolute solution.

“Companies tend to focus more on things that are not their core business yet if this was not the case they then may not have to send their employees home,” he noted.

Meanwhile, he has recommended marketing the country as a brand as a good way of ensuring that it weathers this storm.

“We have done it with France and it seems to be working for them so if Kenya could look at itself as a brand, and the reason for instance it attracts so many premium tourists, and why it does so, it would be a good start,” Mr Silvester said.

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