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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kenya bets big on land, power reforms to ease business cost

Kenya Private Sector Alliance chairman Nicholas Nesbitt and Industry, Trade and Co-operatives CS Adan Mohamed during presentation of the Status Report on the Ease of Doing Business Reforms 2017 in Nairobi yesterday /FAITH MUTEGI
Kenya Private Sector Alliance chairman Nicholas Nesbitt and Industry, Trade and Co-operatives CS Adan Mohamed during presentation of the Status Report on the Ease of Doing Business Reforms 2017 in Nairobi yesterday /FAITH MUTEGI

The government has prioritised reforms in land registration and transfer, electricity connection, revenue collection and resolving insolvency in a bid to improve the country’s investment climate, Industry and Trade CS Adan Mohamed said yesterday.

Mohamed said Kenya’s investment sentiment has improved since the reforms under the Business Environment Delivery Unit in partnership with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance was launched in October 2014.

Speaking at a forum to discuss ongoing reforms on the ease of doing business in Nairobi, the CS claimed the country was now ahead of its competitors on the continent in attracting foreign direct investments. The competitors are largely South Africa and Nigeria.

In the last three years, he said, progress has been made in getting credit, starting a business, registration of property, dealing with construction permits, paying taxes, getting electricity, enforcing contracts and protecting minority investors.

“These are some of the different areas in which things that have traditionally bogged the business community down are now being reformed,” Mohamed said.

Kenya Power said it was targeting to cut the time it takes new commercial customers to connect to electricity to less than two months – the average time it presently takes.

“We have managed to reduce connection timeline from 97 to 63 days. We are working to further bring this down to 50 days,” acting managing director Ken Tarus said. “We are focused on enhancing our infrastructure through investment in new substations and additional distribution lines to enable us connect more customers to the national grid.”

The Ministry of Lands secretary Peter Kahuho said registering a property now takes 35 days from 63 days it took three years ago due to ongoing digitisation of the registries.

“We want it to take a day or two to register property which will be better achieved as we move away from manual to digital transactions,” Kahuho said. “The registry in Nairobi is complete. We are more than 99 per cent complete with 12 more registries, while another five should be done by the end of the year.”

He, however, said that there was still a lot to be done given that the digitisation had only covered 18 of 57 registries in the country in a process that began in 2014.

Kenya Revenue Authority research and tax modeling manager Joseph Sirengo said that the greatest reform by the taxman has been through the electronic tax filing system, the iTax.

“There’s a window on iTax now which allows us to amend tax returns, you are also able to apply and process tax refunds online,” Sirengo said.

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