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Efforts to revive Kenya commerce chamber initiated

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 27- A steering committee has been set up to undertake reforms at the defunct Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).

The committee will comprise of members from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), the Ministry of Trade and registered members of KNCCI.

The move comes after years of board feuds between different factions at the chambers all seeking to gain control of the organisation.

Making the announcement on Thursday Trade Minister Amos Kimunya said the committee will be charged with amending the chamber’s Constitution, which has been accused of creating a leadership vaccum at the helm of the organisation.

“We need to reform the Chamber and that is why we have brought in KEPSA to oversee the reforms. Part of this process will be to bring harmony between the various groups,” Mr Kimunya said.

The committee is expected to review the Memorandum and Articles of Association as well as review the business environment in Kenya in which it is expected to operate in.

He was however quick to point out that the move was not aimed at making a new chamber of commerce but restructure its current mandate.

This will see KNCCI encompass new and emerging industries that have come up since it was formed in 1965.

“The fundamental thing will be the review of the articles, go through clause by clause and update it based on the current operating environment,” he said.

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Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have also complained of being been locked out of national business associations reducing its impact on the economy since they are unable to lobby policy makers.

The Trade Minister added that wrangles have frustrated efforts to market the country to investors.

“When we go on overseas trips we are met by the chambers of commerce of those countries, but when they come here we are always in a dilemma,” he said.

Trouble is said to have begun in 1998 when the Articles of Association was amended to allow the management committee to instruct the Chief Executive Officer on day-to-day management of the chamber.

The amendment also allowed members of the governing council to be members of the management committee, eroding checks and balances necessary for accountability.

This resulted in the chamber electing poor leadership of officials not accountable to the business community but political affiliations with influential politicians.

During the period KNCCI was grappling with its issues, other business associations emerged to fill in the gap further eroding its influence on business.

The committee will be led by KEPSA Chairman Patrick Obath and is expected to complete its work in November this year.

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