, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 – While celebrating 50 years of independence, it is important for Kenyans to focus more on the opportunities that lie ahead for the country rather than complain and dwell on past failures.
Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) CEO Carole Kariuki says this is the time for Kenyans especially the youth to exploit the various opportunities in sectors like construction, telecommunications, agriculture and ICT, which she says have seen tremendous growth over the years.
“It is possible to count how many things are not working, but also much better to look at what has worked in the last 50 years,” Kariuki says.
“Do Kenyans remember when there was no single construction happening in the city? And when you look now, it’s almost a one big construction site. Do Kenyans remember, though the interest rates of the banks have gone up now, that there was time you could not borrow, and if so, for selected few?
“Look at the East African integration… there were times when a country like Uganda was like a real international country, you never thought of it as a neighbour.”
“Remember when a lot of shopping in supermarkets was so hard, even for basic needs. Like here, (Nairobi) we had one or two Uchumis. That is, shopping had closed. But look at how many shopping malls we have. Supermarkets are all over, in the small centers across the country,” she says in an interview.
“Look at ICT sector; we had so many people who could not communicate, leave alone mobile phones, but even on landline. Landlines were such a tussle to get and even if you got, maintaining was a problem. But look now, even a ‘mama mboga’ has a cell phone. What amazes me is when you find those in the rural areas, in manyattas, with cell phones.”
“We now communicate so much on emails. Remember how people had emails some times back. One could easily remember all your friend emails, because they were very few,” she says.
She has however urged the government to work on uniting Kenyans despite their political, religious and ethnic differences, as it is crucial for the country’s economic growth.
“I am a firm believer that you can only do and achieve what you believe in. We need to work together as Kenyans because there is power in togetherness. I see companies announcing mergers every day,” Kariuki emphasises.
Having seen the growth of KEPSA two years after its inception in 2003 to date, Kariuki says for anyone to win, there is need to have resilience and patience and always seeing the positive side.
“When I joined KEPSA in 2005, it had only five members of staff, and being in the programs department, one could do almost everything. Then I took a break in 2008 and came back in 2009 as the CEO. That time we had negative budgets and I had two months’ salary for staff. There was a lot of apathy among members and had it had lost its reputation. But I had to look ahead and make it better,” she says.
KEPSA will be celebrating its 10th birthday this Saturday.
“As Kenyans we can either decide to look at the glass half full, or half empty,” she says.