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Kenyan firms gear up for better times

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 28- Kenyan companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of the anticipated economic recovery by installing IT solutions that will enable them gain productivity in their firms, a leading consultant says.

The Country Managing Partner of a Pan-African audit and consulting firm De Chazal Du Mee (DCDM) Group Deepa Doshi said the firms are also addressing strategic and tactical issues in a bid to remain ahead of their global competitors despite the effects of the global financial crisis and the post election violence.

“It is projected that Kenya will record sustained growth and see its main sectors recover in 2010. The gloomy outlook however has given impetus to a few forward looking Kenyan companies,” she said adding that country’s economic growth prospects looked higher next year.

Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reduced to 1.7 percent in 2008 from the 7.1 percent achieved in 2007. It is expected to grow by 2-3 percent in 2009.

According to DCDM Kenya, key industries to watch in 2010 include banking, construction and telecommunications and agricultural sector, that contracted by negative 5.1 percent from a two percent growth in 2007.

The sector is expected to recover marginally on the back of improved commodity prices and export earnings on horticultural produce. However this will depend on improved rainfall, the lack of which has destroyed the livelihoods of many small holder farmers who provide the bulk of produce consumed locally.

“Competition has intensified in the banking sector with a renewed interest and entry of some foreign banks, while their local counterparts are pursuing regional strategies, seeking the wider presence in African states,” said Mrs Doshi.

The mobile phone sector has also seen a spurt in competition that is expected to drive greater innovation and benefits to the consumers. However the next big break in economic growth she said lies in the SME sector.

“We must look at the United States where 90 percent of the business is done by SMEs who contribute to enhanced employment, breakthrough solutions and robust market dynamics. SME’s that have a big canvas approach and are cautiously optimistic have the potential of becoming dominant players in their sectors,” she added.

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In an address to leading South African Private Equity investors who toured Kenya recently, she however added that the greater East African countries such as Mauritius and Botswana were also seeing a major thrust by companies aiming to improve their competitiveness in the region.

“For local industries and investors alike it will all boil down to a better business climate and taking advantage of growth opportunities,” she said, in response to queries on which country was likely fair to best out of the economic downturn.

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