The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has challenged a rethink and reimagining of the Kenyan investment landscape by focusing on the counties.
Speaking during the first Senate Speaker's Round Table of the 12th Parliament on Saturday, KEPSA Chief Executive Carole Kariuki said this year's Roundtable builds on the progress and achievements from previous engagements since the forum was established in 2013.
The roundtable's key discussions revolved around strengthening the partnership and collaboration between the private sector and the Senate towards easing doing business within counties.
KEPSA is also seeking strengthened partnership with the Senate Departmental Committees, entrenched devolution, and creation of enabling business environment within the counties to attract investment and grow local businesses.
"For us to achieve Vision 2030 and be the top investment destination for Africa, we need to focus on re-imagining Kenya and together look at the investment opportunities available in the counties," said Kariuki.
Already, KEPSA has participated in passing the County Government's Revenue Raising Process Bill, the Public Participation Bill, Assumption of Office of Governor Bill and the Public Private Partnership Bill among many others.
Kariuki emphasized the need to fast-track establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to support the growth of SMEs along the value chains, create jobs and improve the value of our exports.
She gave an example of Rwanda where in 2017, the Kigali SEZ increased Rwanda's exports by 554% from $5.5million in 2016 to $43.6M.
In China, she said, SEZs contribute over 60% of exports and 22% of the GDP.
The counties and the regional economic blocs provide numerous opportunities for investment and KEPSA seeks to leverage on the partnership with the Senate to engage the individual counties to unlock the opportunities.
KEPSA Chair, Nick Nesbitt said that KEPSA considers the engagement with the Senate very seriously, cognizant of the Senate's crucial roles as enshrined under Article 96 of the Constitution.
"We believe the impact of our engagements with the Senate is reflected in Kenya's year-on-year improvement in the overall business environment," remarked Nesbitt.
Since 2014, Kenya has climbed up the global ranking by 75 positions in the Ease of Doing Business Index to position 61.
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka affirmed that the Senate is committed to addressing the issues of double taxation and pending bills which frustrate, stifle and discourage private sector activities and investment in counties.
Lusaka said there are key concerns and issues which the Senate is keen to audit and address through new legislation, repealing repugnant laws or amending existing ones.
The Speaker's Roundtable is one of KEPSA's Public-Private Dialogue engagement platforms that is held annually between KEPSA and the Senate.
This engagement facilitates a joint review of the policy and legislative environment in the country, identifies crucial Bills to the private sector that need to be reviewed or fast-tracked.
It also addresses any gaps that require new laws to be passed, based on the country's and private sector development priorities.
At the forum attended by about 200 delegates, Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye reported that since the last engagement between the Senate and KEPSA in 2016, various legislative proposals geared towards improving the business environment had been initiated.
He said the Senate Secretariat will ensure the resolutions of the 4th SRT are implemented.