What you need to know:
- Growth is emerging every day in new sectors like oil and gas, mining, and in the fast-growing service industry.
- We have a lot to celebrate. Firstly, the country has a well-educated workforce; mostly consisting of the youth.
A market of 50 million people, and growing.
An unbroken record of sticking to a broadly private and state capitalist economic line since independence.
An economic policy largely benevolent to the private sector. One of Africa’s three main reservoirs of educated manpower. You rarely hear these words in relation to the Kenyan economy.
You will more likely hear about our vigorous (and it is often too vigorous) political culture, the fierce competition for corrupt deals, our no holds barred social media, or rampant crime statistics. We rarely tell our own story well.
Beyond the sun and sand narrative that has driven our economy since independence, we have a new narrative to share when it comes to embedding constitutionalism into our systems, or being quick and early adaptors of cutting-edge technology.
Growth is emerging every day in new sectors like oil and gas, mining, and in the fast-growing service industry.
Just look at the number of boda bodas on the road every day, each one of them tells the tale of an entrepreneur who is making business by delivering goods and services.
Agriculture is drawing new investors — we are seeing increasing consolidation of agricultural commodities trading and distribution as well as the agri-processing sector, which is also expanding.
So how do we protect this growth story? We have been stable for years, but we must also remain cognisant of the fact that we are likely to be overwhelmed by the increased challenges of a stretched public budget, declining terms of trade, a steep increase in debt service and an increased waiting time for public sector investments to start having an impact on the common man.
We can also expect enhanced inflationary pressures, deteriorating exchange rates and continued fallout after the interest rate caps.
However, we must remember is that Kenya is a promising place to do business.
With an ever-growing market, excellent business opportunities and improving appeal to foreign investors, we have the right ingredients to ensure future economic growth is assured.
We have a lot to celebrate. Firstly, the country has a well-educated workforce; mostly consisting of the youth.
Our population is estimated at 46.8 million out of which 18.5 million are workers, with around 841,600 persons entering the job market every year.
With 80 per cent of the population below 35, Kenya is indeed a youthful nation with an equally youthful workforce that is well-educated and aspirational.
Secondly, despite the fact that politics was one of the major conversations in the country last year, our economic prospects have generally remained stable.
According to the Control Risk 2017 report, which evaluates the likelihood of state or non-state political actors negatively affecting business operations, Kenya’s political risk has been termed as medium.
This means even though the environment provides generally sound conditions for business to progress, challenges may still emerge.
Lastly, Kenya has an innovative and fast developing ICT industry that also enables the financial services sector, which plays an important role in the economy, with 75.3 per cent of the population having access to financial services.
We have quickly become an ICT hub. In 2016, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg visited Kenya and Nigeria and invested $24 million into Andela, a company that trains programmers in the two countries.
It is only right we continue tapping into the extensive potential that exists in the ICT sector.
According to the Frost & Sullivan’s Kenya ICT Outlook 2017 report, Kenya is ahead in terms of digital maturity, attributed to having more extensive ICT infrastructure and mobile internet access and a much more diverse and services-oriented economy, which typically drives the expansion of digital services.
After the adoption of the Vision 2030, Kenya has experienced a boom in telecommunication.
Broadband connectivity has also improved in the last three years, with fiber optics accounting for close to 97 per cent of ground internet connections.
Adoption of e-governance has also seen the successful execution of various projects.
There has also been provision of incentives touching on ease of setting up business, investment and investor protection, simplified tax regime, and favourable labour regulations.
The government’s intention to increase public-private partnerships, particularly in large infrastructural projects, presents an opportunity for private sector involvement in national development, and the multiplier effects of these developments will improve growth across the economy.
The writer is the Director, Enterprise Business Unit at Safaricom