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Tourism, ICT to pilot investment reforms

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25 – The government has launched an initiative that will see it partner with the private sector to improve the competitiveness of various sectors with a view to accelerating investment and economic growth.

In collaboration with the World Bank, the government through the Competitive Partnerships Initiative (CPI) will implement a conducive business environment with the view to achieving a Gross Domestic Product growth rate of 10 percent per annum.

The Head of Public Service Reforms at the Office of the Prime Minister Emmanuel Lubembe said the reform efforts will initially be implemented on a sector-to-sector basis starting with tourism and ICT on a pilot basis.

"For instance, we are expecting 1.2 million visitors this year. But the thinking would be, how can we reach five million and what do we need to do. Government would create the enabling environment by giving incentives and training people who would then help our tourism industry to excel and compete with the rest of the world," said Mr Lubembe.

Speaking during the opening of a two-day workshop on the CPI approach to accelerating economic development in Kenya, he pointed out that they would build on the ongoing initiatives in the two sectors in order to address the challenges that hamper their ability to compete effectively.

These challenges have seen Kenya\’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index slip since 2008 despite efforts to make the country an investor friendly destination.

However, this approach is designed to identify the binding constraints in each of these sectors and recommend the way forward. The conference is therefore expected to explore the recommendations that will be implemented and in what time lines in order to achieve the initiative\’s objective.

Citing the vibrancy of the private sector and the government\’s willingness to deal with the bottlenecks faced by the business community, the World Bank\’s Senior Investment Promotion Specialist Wim Douw exuded confidence that Kenya has the critical factors needed to enable it effectively compete on the global platform.

"For this kind of an initiative to be successful, there\’s a need to have a strong vision and a willingness to act on the vision. In Kenya, there is a very clear Vision 2030 and that\’s where it all starts. Another thing is the clarity of the objectives and that is, understanding from the beginning what it is we are trying to achieve," said Mr Douw.

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Kenya plans to borrow from international best practices from countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Morocco and South Africa where the sectoral approach has successfully worked in the electronics, car parts and wine industries respectively.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) Chairman Eng Patrick Obath lauded the initiative which he said would require the business community to have shared services through which they can benefit from economies of scale.

"We have to start looking at how we can work together rather than working separately to reduce the overall cost whilst each business unity is still offering a unique value proposition within this umbrella," the chairman proposed.

It is widely acknowledged that the country\’s competitiveness is curtailed by factors such as corruption, government bureaucracy and tax regimes and insecurity and as such the model will include a review of the regulatory and tax environment as well as capacity building.

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