Driving growth through private sector empowerment

Members of the private sector participated in a dinner organized by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) where KFC is am member, and the World Bank Group in honour of World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim. The meeting held at the Serena hotel also hosted private sector leaders from Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia to discuss the role of the private sector in fostering development and wealth creation.

During the meeting regional business leaders discussed matters affecting the expansion of the economy and how the private sector can drive economic expansion through job creation especially among vulnerable groups such as youth and women.

The main challenges highlighted during the meeting include; Infrastructure, Energy, regional trade barriers and unfavourable legislation. The private sector remains the top employer across the region accounting for over 90% of employment. The leaders however identified the quality of jobs created as inadequate as the larger number of employees remains low wage earners on short term contracts that have not been able to raise living standards for those engaging in employment.

Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed, who was part of a discussion panel on the role of private sector in wealth creation, pledged the government’s continued support for private sector driven initiatives through private public partnerships. CS Mohammed emphasized the need to create a larger more robust private sector leveraged on regional markets to support economic growth and employment.

World Bank Senior Director for Fragility, Conflict and Violence Betty Bigombe stressed the need for the private sector to take a more active role in conflict resolution as peace building is critical to economic growth. KEPSA director Polycarp Igathe urged the World Bank to aid in the development of social political risk mitigation to safeguard against the erosion of capital due to political risk. Mr. Igathe said the private sector needs to develop a mechanism to input on political risk mitigation by engaging the political class on the impact of political tension on economic activities.

On his part World Bank president Jim Yong Kim pledged the World Bank’s continued support for private sector driven initiative to foster development. President Kim said the World Bank is shifting its approach towards technology and skills transfer to enable emerging economies leverage on best practices from across the globe and adopt them to fit their needs.

The meeting is part of a new initiative by the World Bank and the United Nations dubbed ‘The Horn of Africa Initiative’ which will see the two agencies spend over 160 billion shilling on development projects to promote economic growth and opportunity, reduce poverty, and spur business activity.

The initiative covers the eight countries in the Horn of Africa — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda and was launched at the African Union Headquarters in Ethiopia by United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and World Bank Group President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim.

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