Positive Changes at Last? A New Hope for Business in Kenya

About mid way through March, most of us read with horror the results on corruption as far as government contracts are concerned.

The National Ethics and Corruption Survey 2015 conducted by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that should you wish to clinch a government tender, you will likely have to part with a jaw dropping KES.275,000 in bribes on average.

The silver lining, if there ever could be one- the survey also sought to establish Kenyan perception on what can only be described as shameless graft and came up with the important observation that Kenyans are becoming more conscious of our dire situation, with 73.9% of us said to believe in astronomical levels of corruption more so in our public sector.

With this awareness comes revolution.

Cabinet recently approved bills that we all hope will slowly but surely dig us out of the dark pit of corruption we are presently members of.

Set to go before parliament, these two bills are aimed at achieving the double punch of enforcing harsh punishments for those giving and receiving bribes, as well as protecting whistle blowers that come forward to report graft.

Should this pass in parliament and receive presidential approval, it will be a fine time to be an entrepreneur, don’t you think?

Photo credit: Alan Dean

Photo credit: Alan Dean

Speaking of a new lease on life for the private sector, the government continues to encourage the growth of companies, especially in the face of fierce competition from foreign entrants.

Aside from pointing out that Kenya’s reputation as an active participant in bald-faced corruption may discourage potential foreign partners or investors, the National Contractors Development and Guarantee Fund also aims to help Kenyan contractors get a leg up on foreign players by enabling them lease much needed equipment that they would otherwise not have been able to acquire or afford.

Additionally, one Professor Maranga – Principle Secretary, State Department of Public Works- advises Kenyan companies to link arms and pool resources if they have any hope of staving off well-funded international companies from monopolizing government contracts, create employment and see to it that our hard earned tax shillings are plowed back into the hands of Kenyans.

Of course, the partnership of companies does not always mean the best for the consumer.

Take for example the collaboration between makers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) that we rely on so greatly in our day to day cooking. At present, the valves on the gas cylinders are standardized, which is why you are able to exchange your empty cylinder for a fresh one across brand lines.

This of course does not sit well with large multinational firms who are petitioning the Energy and Petroleum ministry to lift regulations requiring this uniformity.

Smaller LPG companies have risen to protest this, and we as consumers are anxious for the results as well: are you prepared to remain locked in with one LPG brand for the foreseeable future? We’ll have to wait and see.

One way or the other, there seem to be big changes coming, cutting across the private and public sector. What are your hopes for your chosen industry?

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