British Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Graham Shaw, has been named as one of the new members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) governing council during the organisation’s 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) yesterday at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi.
The meeting reviewed the operations and financial statements for the 2018/19 financial year, appointed new leaders to take the place of retiring directors and governing council, and discussed plans for the following year.
Along with Mr Shaw, the other appointed leaders include; Mr. Nicholas Nesbitt (Chair), Ms. Rita Kavashe (Vice Chair), Ms. Patricia Ithau, Ms. Brenda Mbathi, Mr. Jeremy Awori, Ms. Flora Mutahi, Mr. Jaswinder Bedi, Ms. Catherine Musakali, Mr. Sachen Gudka, Mr. Gichuhi Allen Waiyaki, Mr. Sun Mengxin, Mr. Michael Macharia, Mr. Francis Munywoki and Dr. Elizabeth Wala.
Opening the meeting, KESPA Chair, Nicholas Nesbitt , noted that the Private sector in Kenya has continued to play a very critical role in the economy.
He told attendees that KEPSA’s policy leadership has been solidified by strong membership drawn from diverse representation of private sector that have been able to aptly identify pen-points impeding economic growth and prescribing smart approaches both in the short run as well as in the long run.
Mr Nesbitt said he appreciated that his leadership has been made possible through the continued support and contribution of the KEPSA Board, the Governing Council and the wider membership
“For over 15 years KEPSA has led the way in responding to challenges facing the economy through thought leadership and offering private sector spark in the policy making process in Kenya,” he said.
KEPSA CEO Ms. Carole Kariuki thanked the outgoing, incoming and existing leadership for the key role they had played in making KEPSA the world-class private sector apex body – comparable to the Singapore Business Federation, the Confederation of British Industries (CBI), Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (COEO), among others.
She looked back on 2018, noting that unlike the year before, the political dust settled allowing the economy to get back to business
Drilling down into the detail, Ms Kariuki said that both agriculture and manufacturing sectors recovered from the slowdown in 2017 to register 6.4 percent and 4.2 percent growth in 2018 compared to 1.9 percent and 0.5 percent respectively last year due to improved weather conditions.
The Kenyan economy recorded an estimated 6.3% GDP growth up from 4.9% in 2017, and key macroeconomic indicators such as inflation remained favourable at 4.7% compared to 8% in 2017. Lending rates were 12.5% as of December 2018, while the shilling remained strong against major currencies.
However, she warned that credit to private sector remained a challenge with 1.9 percent growth compared to 4.1 percent in 2017.
Concluding her round-up, she said that overall, the economy had created a total of 840,600 new jobs (762,100 informal and 78,500 formal) with the private sector accounting for 69.5 percent of the total employment.
The fastest recorded growth rates came in the hospitality, ICT, electricity supply along with the transport and storage sectors at 16.6 percent, 11.4 percent, 10.5 percent and 8.8 percent respectively.
As part of Public Policy Research and Analysis in 2018 KEPSA undertook development of the 3rd National Business Agenda (NBA-III), an SME Policy Index to measure the suitability of current national and county policies including the areas of SME development and corruption risk mapping.
British Deputy High Commissioner Susie Kitchens welcomed the ‘strong statements’ by Mr Nesbitt and Ms Kariuki, adding her takeaways from the meeting that the private sector must drive Kenya’s growth, SMEs should receive support and corruption should be tackled and rejected.
KEPSA’s external auditor from RSM East Africa PLC read out the Auditors Report and Opinion on the Financial Statement for year 2018 which gave them a clean audit report before KEPSA Director and Chair of the Audit & Finance Committee, Mr. Jeremy Awori, present ed his financial report for 2018.
Following the presentations, Dr. Manu Chandaria, Chair of the Board Nomination Committee, read out the names of the retired and appointed directors, followed by Vice Chair and Chair of the Governing Council Nomination Committee, Ms. Rita Kavashe who announced the names of the outgoing and incoming Chairs and Vice Chairs in the different sectors.
The first session of the meeting concluded with the KEPSA Foundation Chair discussing the ‘Lay Your Brick’ a campaign which is fundraising towards the purchase of new office space for the organisation.
During the meeting, KEPSA committed to remain to ensure the professional environment encourages and supports all businesses in Kenya whether large or small, foreign or domestic, to grow and achieve their full potential no matter the sector or part of the country they operate. KEPSA also pledged to continue working together to shape the policy environment in the country, and make Kenya attractive to work, live and do business in.
Other than the AGM, KEPSA members also had a session in which they engaged on the status of Kenya’s competitiveness (identified as below potential, having dropped in the 2018 Global Competitiveness Index from position 91 to 93). The identified factors limiting competitiveness included the rampant corruption in the country, high cost of doing business – majorly due to the heavy tax burden (37.4 percent) and high production costs driven by cost of raw materials, high energy bills, logistics challenges, and limited access to credit, among other factors.