, ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Mar 11 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged Kenyan and Ethiopian private sector leaders to work together to grow jobs for young people in the two countries.
He said the burden of finding dignified work for young people falls heavily on the private sector leaders as it does on governments.
“It is your duty to work as closely as you can with us to employ our youth, and secure new markets for your goods and services,” President Kenyatta said.
The President spoke in Addis Ababa, on the second day of his State visit to Ethiopia, at a Kenya-Ethiopia Business Forum that was addressed by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Leading Kenyan private sector figures including Chris Kirubi of Haco Tiger Brands, James Mwangi of Equity Bank and Betty Maina of Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) attended the forum.
President Kenyatta urged Kenyan and Ethiopian business organisations to begin consultations to identify hurdles that need to be cleared to enhance business interaction between the two countries.
“The quicker they identify hindrances to the smooth flow of investment between the countries, the quicker both governments will be able to remove them,” President Kenyatta said.
He disclosed that Kenya is ready to begin consultations on regulations and guidelines that would allow Ethiopian companies to raise investment capital and trade at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
The President said Kenya is inspired by the possibilities of joint ventures between businesses, particularly the potential for cross-listing on regional bourses.
He said the Jubilee Government regards the private sector as a key centre of economic and social development and has built regulatory capacity through statutory bodies with sufficient legal powers to enforce fair trade and pricing practices.
“Equally, the Government has divested itself of its majority shareholding in state commercial companies through the Nairobi Securities Exchange,” the President said.
He noted that the divestiture programme bore fruit in improved corporate governance, as vital business decision-making and management instruments were left to the private sector.
Supported by a strong monetary and fiscal policy framework, President Kenyatta said the private sector in Kenya is now one of the fastest growing in Africa.
“This is the signpost that we wish to plant here today. In the hope that our experience would inspire your practice, I have with me in my delegation experienced private sector executives who will be pleased to share their know-how,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the volume of trade between Kenya and Ethiopia would grow to higher heights. In 2012, Kenya’s exports to Ethiopia stood at $53.2 million while imports from Ethiopia were worth $4.1 million.