PRIVATE SECTOR

KEPSA's five pillar recovery strategy on course–CEO

The CEO believes the vaccination process is the only sure way to ensure economic stability

In Summary
  • Under the Public Private Dialogue pillar, KEPSA has re-energized its engagements especially with key Ministries and the NDICCC.
  • To improve the country’s global competitiveness and business environment, KEPSA is working with government,among other partners on the 2022 Doing Business reform Action Plan.
Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) CEO Carole Kariuki/HANDOUT
Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) CEO Carole Kariuki/HANDOUT

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has been on a keen 2021 strategic plan to support government in rebuilding the economy following the effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Star's Susan Nyawira spoke to the KEPSA CEO Carole Kariuki, on the implementation of this five pillar strategy and outlook on business and public safety around Covid-19 ahead of the holiday season and the elections in 2022.

1. KEPSA has a 2021 strategic plan to support government in rebuilding the economy following the effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Where are we in the implementation of this five pillar strategy and what initiatives have been achieved so far?

Under the Public Private Dialogue pillar, KEPSA has re-energized its engagements especially with key Ministries and the NDICCC on cross-cutting policy issues and economic recovery; Parliament through the various Departmental Committee Chairs to fast-track critical bills and resolve other legislative issues critical to private sector; key agencies like KRA through Tax Roundtable and meeting of both KEPSA and KRA boards; engagement with NMS, etc.

To improve the country’s global competitiveness and business environment, KEPSA is working with government, IFC, among other partners on the 2022 Doing Business reform Action Plan with a target to improve Kenya’s ranking to top 50 globally. The effort is coordinated by Ministry of EAC and regional Development through the Department of Business Reforms and Transformation.

Under the governance pillar, anti-corruption, humanitarian and citizen agenda, steering committees have been constituted and have been meeting to develop work plans for each of the strategic areas. Mkenya Daima, which is a peace campaign ahead of the upcoming general elections, has also been initiated. Currently engagement with key partners is ongoing to support the activities.

On the Sustainability pillar KEPSA has integrated Green Business Environment Reforms in its National Business Agenda and intensified activities to promote private sector contribution to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promoting green economy and circular models through its Sustainable Inclusive Business Project as well as through the P4G national platform which we co-chair with National Treasury. Towards climate change adaptation and mitigation, KEPSA has been involved in championing development of policies such as Sustainable Waste Management Policy and Bill, Extended Producer Responsibility, capacity building through the Climate Business Information Network Kenya (CBIN-K), among others.

2. Which one of these initiatives can you say has had the highest impact on SMEs and the general business environment in support of KEPSA members?

From the feedback and testimonials received from SMEs that participated, most of the programs have had huge impact especially for SMEs. Example, the E-Commerce Booster program that trained over 2,600 SMEs on digital marketing and linked them to various digital platforms and the Business Resilience and Recovery program which features both financing as well as capacity building through training and mentorship sessions have been very transformative.

On improving the business environment, KEPSA engagements through its Economic Management Framework for Covid-19 Response has been a huge success in cushioning businesses against the negative effects of the pandemic and ensuring continuity.

3. What are some of the initiatives, you have undertaken under the KEPSA Business Hub pillar, in enhancing resilience and growth of SMEs for wealth and job creation?

Establishment of a dedicated SME club / sector board to enable networking and advocacy on issues affecting SMEs in the country. The COVID-19 on Recovery and Resilience program on providing training and mentorship to women and youth enterprises supported by Mastercard Foundation. Enhancing economic diplomacy and championing market opportunities for SMEs particularly through KEPSA partnerships abroad, participation free trade negotiations with the UK, US, AfCFTA, among others.

4. KEPSA is one among other implementing partners of the government’s Ajira Digital Programme, under the Social Pillar. What has been the impact of the project so far?

For the last one year, that is between June 2020 and July 2021 there has been digitization of 61 courts through data entry/scanning and transcription of 183 courts, 7 tribunals has been done.

Linking of of 27,549 to digital and digitally enabled jobs with over 56 digital platforms

5. Tell us about the KEPSA & GoK 'Building Back Better' engagement around Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience approach. What is the current progress update on this private sector Covid-19 response initiative?

The private sector vaccine program is an initiative aimed at supporting the Government to accelerate the Covid-19 vaccination process in the country to enable full reopening of the economy. Interested Companies were urged to meet the cost of vaccinating their employees and their families.

The first consignment of J&J vaccines was received last week and roll out is set to begin this week through collaboration between MoH and the Kenya Healthcare Federation.

6. How many KEPSA members and private companies have registered for the vaccination effort so far and how will the process of vaccinations be carried out?

A total of 263 companies have registered for the program.

7. How many people do you hope to vaccinate or reach in this effort by December 2021?

The government target is to vaccinate 10 million people by end of the year and the entire adult population of 26 million by end of next year. We seek to support the process to ensure the target is achieved.

8. What are some of the data or trends you can share about the effects of Covid-19 on your members and the larger business community so far?

The pandemic has dealt a major blow to the business community and the economy at large. In 2020, the government estimates that the economy lost Ksh 560 billion as a result of the pandemic with GDP growing by a meagre 0.6%. From our survey in June last year, 63 percent of surveyed businesses had incurred over 50 percent losses compared to their 2019 revenues. This improved to 34% by October as government relaxed most of the Covid-19 restrictions and international markets opened up. Economic activity has since been improving but at a slower pace judging by the trend in the Stanbic Bank Purchasing Managers Index which is currently at 51.1 points.

Most of the challenges faced during the pandemic include drop in sales due to reduced consumer demand and supply chain disruptions, increased financial/liquidity challenges, high operating costs, reduced labour productivity among others.

However, the pandemic has brought new perspectives that will shape the future of business such as the digital transition, remote work arrangements and uptake of business process outsourcing, renewed focus on growing local and regional value chains to reduce vulnerability to international market shocks, emergence of new industries such as production of PPEs, increased investment into strengthening healthcare systems and push for sustainable development/business practices.

9. What is KEPSA’s outlook on business and public safety around Covid-19 as people plan and anticipate the December holiday season and as we head into the election period in 2022?

The vaccination process is the only sure way to ensure public safety and economic stability. We hope by December most of the adult population will have been vaccinated; therefore we are unlikely to see new high waves or severe containment measures imposed by government. We are confident that business during the festivities and into 2022 will continue to recover.

As we near the electioneering period we are cognisant of the potential disruption to business and other possible uncertainty around political campaigns, so ahead of the elections we will be launching yet again, the Mkenya Daima peace initiative that seeks to bring stakeholders together to champion for positive and peaceful campaigns through to subsequent transition of offices to ensure that even as we elect our leaders, business and state of the economy is still thriving without much interruption.