NAIROBI, Kenya, May 10 – They say that life begins at forty. If that is so, then Kenyans should look forward to 14th Session of the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that comes back to Kenya forty years later.
Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD’s Secretary General and former Trade Minister in Kenya said that the conference will bring together between 7,000 and 8,000 people who include heads of governments, ministers, entrepreneurs, CEOs of Forbes 500 companies and other prominent players from around the world.
And it is expected to be the most effective ministerial conference yet; “the July 2016 session will focus on fighting extreme poverty in developing countries and ways of banishing it by 2030. It will also focus on promoting emerging technologies to the benefit of humanity especially the vulnerable.”
Kituyi also says that the conference will bring together think-tanks that will forge ways on how UNCTAD can live up to its promise to hold governments and the corporate sector from developing countries accountable for the state of their societies.
Women’s welfare will also be looked into. According to Kituyi, the session will look into ways of helping women live up to their full potential as they explore fields such as entrepreneurship.
The session will also address long pending challenges that developing countries have faced especially as far as trade and development is concerned. He acknowledges the existing issues such as difficulties faced by developing countries when trading with developed ones and the lack of equality when it comes to their exports versus imports into these countries.
-Opportunities by association-
The ministerial conference will offer plenty of opportunities to both the represented countries and the attendees.
The represented countries for instance will have a platform to air their trade and development related grievances.
“Unlike other conferences, this conference is special because its doors are open. Hence everyone will be welcome to join the world economic forum, the youth forum and other forums that will be running.”
Kituyi also says that the ministerial conference should especially be attended by budding entrepreneurs seeking to network with successful business leaders who will be present.
“The event will for instance have Forbes 500 CEO making it an excellent opportunity to make great contacts that could even lead to forming partnerships.”
Closer home, the former Trade Minister admits that there are opportunities for Kenya in holding the ministerial conference; “Kenya’s ailing hospitality sector will for instance get an opportunity to redeem itself because hosting between 7,000 and 8,000 delegates is really not a small feat.”
He also says that this conference will offer artisans a chance to market their products to the delegates.
“I therefore invite Kenyans to be good hosts; I invite the government to help out with the traffic issues in Nairobi and I invite the hospitality industry to put its best foot forward as this has the opportunity to help in its redemption.”
-Matters Trade and Development–
Kituyi diverts from the conference to speak about trade and development. He says that there are more opportunity niches for Kenya and other developing countries than it is actually released.
The service industry for instance is the biggest employer after the formal sector but it is highly disregarded.
“There is an inadequate appreciation of the service sector and its ability to create jobs and transform economies. Whether it is ICT, legal services, hospitality, financial audition and logistics for goods and services, the industry is for sure very big. Yet there are no policies to guide this industry. There are policies for agriculture, manufacturing and energy and so on, just not for the service industry.”
He therefore urges governments in these countries to replicate Asia’s model that has made it what it is today.
“Governments in Asia are putting each and every resource that they have to support their industries, including the service industry. That is why these countries are giving the west a run for its money as far as innovation and development is concerned.”
Kituyi also speaks about the creative industry which is yet to be taken advantage of. He compares the amount of energy put in the industry by the west and the amount of return reaped by these countries vis-à-vis the situation in developing countries.
Other industries that Kituyi speaks about include the bio-trade industry which he says has taken Asian countries by storm and could perfectly work here.