President Ruto defends KICC privatisation


The Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has defended the government's decision to sell the iconic Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), touting it as the only sure way to maximise profits and unlock its true financial potential.

The building in the heart of the capital is one of several state parastatals earmarked for privatisation, a move that has caused a furore.

But according to the president, the privatisation of KICC is expected to generate Sh3 billion annually. The strategy, he said, is to commercialise it.

He was speaking during a joint media interview at State House, Nairobi, where he also touched on several other issues affecting his administration.

"KICC is today valued at Sh30 billion but we got Sh30 million in the last financial year... It is being mismanaged," Ruto said. "Instead of having KICC as an office block for people who don't pay rent, why don't we turn it into an international conference centre that will generate Sh300 billion a year?"

The President was categorical that the move would ensure that KICC added value to the government.

Among the parastatals listed for the bid were Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC), Kenya Seed Company Limited (KSC) and National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK).

Others were: Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB), Western Kenya Rice Mills Ltd (WKRM), Numerical Machining Complex Limited (NMC), 35% of Vehicle Manufacturers Limited (KVM) and Rivatex East Africa Limited (REAL) and the Mwea Rice Mills Ltd (MRM).

However, four of them - KICC, KPC, New KCC and KSC - raised eyebrows as to why they were being considered for privatisation.

The High Court, however, suspended the plans following a case filed by the opposition.

Built in three phases between 1967 and 1977, the KICC "boasts of its proximity and easy accessibility to all major five-star hotels, most of which are within a ten-minute walk or five-minute drive".

The facility has the capacity to host both large and small events, both indoors and outdoors, according to its website. It also offers "excellent rooms with a good atmosphere, clean and air-conditioned".