• Kariuki pointed out that Kenya has a market-based economy
Members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) on Tuesday hosted a consultative meeting with Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja to review legislative, executive and advocacy issues that affect competitiveness and ease of doing business in Nairobi County and its environs.
The inaugural meeting between the voice of the private sector in Kenya, and Nairobi Senator reflected on the priorities and interests of the private sector and the need to improve the capital's competitiveness to attract foreign investors and local entrepreneurs.
This came about as a follow up to the 2019 Senate Speaker's Round Table held in November last year, when one of the key resolutions was that the private sector, in partnership with Nairobi County Senator, would convene a Joint Nairobi City County Senator's Round Table.
KEPSA CEO, Carole Kariuki, while giving an overview of Nairobi county engagements, progress and achievements, noted that the forum was borne out of a mutual understanding and agreement between stakeholders, both in public and private sectors.
She pointed out that Kenya has a market-based economy and is generally considered the economic, commercial, financial and logistics hub of East Africa with Nairobi being the lifeblood of our economy.
However, more needs to be done to make the city more attractive.
Kariuki highlighted on poor planning and lack of efficient public transport systems such as trams, light rail, BRT, which have been adopted in cities like Dar es Salaam.
She added that to organise the city, there is need to review and implement the Nairobi City Master Plan to guide development.
In addition to this, she noted that there is need to address the hawkers' issue, proposing gazettement of markets away from roads.
This will encourage more people to visit the markets and restore order on the streets. "What makes our city successful must be one of the most important question in our political economy," Kariuki said.
Sakaja appreciated KEPSA for organising the meeting, noting that it was the first in a series of more frequent engagements with Nairobi County leadership including the County Executives, area MPs and MCAs.
He assured the members present that consultations were ongoing on the issues facing Nairobi and solutions will be found soon, emphasizing that Nairobi must and will work.
Sakaja also acknowledged the issues such as delayed building approvals, lack of public transport systems are things that need to be worked on considering our neighbours Kampala and Dar es Salaam are way ahead.
He added that there is need for an overhaul of the city's water infrastructure and adoption of technology to fix some of the issues. The senator expressed confidence in the ability for devolution to solve Nairobi's problems without establishing other leadership structures save for managers to take care of the needs of different city zones as per the Urban Areas and Cities Act.
He urged KEPSA to increase structured engagements with the County legislators noting that Nairobi has 17 Constituencies and 85 MCAs, they can partner with to improve the city.
Lee Karuri, the KEPSA Foundation Chairman and the leader of the Nairobi for Africa Initiative presented the identified priority issues to restore Nairobi such as unpredictable advertising fees, harassment by county askaris, issues on acquiring trading permits, infrastructure, parking fees, among others.
The engagement saw the members present raise issues such as the need to open up decision making processes within the county to public scrutiny, enhanced communication between the county and Jogoo house to resolve challenges faced by ECDEs, increased engagement between the Senator and Nairobi youth - something that he assured he was open to undertake, among others.
He further challenged the private sector to take ownership of the city and participate more actively in forums meant to improve leadership and governance.