Yesterday I briefly attended a KIPPRA Summit on improving the enabling environment for business in Kenya. I was only able to attend two sessions, but the highlight was a five minute speech by industrialist Dr. Manu Chandaria who basically ripped the government – he said that the state of security was alarming, the NSHIF bill was a bad thing (Kenyans must have choice & competition, not an authoritarian body) and that the Government wasted the entire 2004 year (no investment reforms) doing nothing.

A 2.4% economic growth rate was nothing to brag about, and Kenya should measure its business environment against that of India and China – not Tanzania and Uganda. He said that Kenya should shoot for 7% growth, and then maybe it would attain 5% otherwise we’d be overtaken by Uganda and Tanzania by 2015.

By comparison, the VP (Moody Awori) and (Minister) Nyongo sounded tired. Nyongo said that Kenya didn’t have much to worry about as investors were primarily (25%) concerned with market share – and Kenya was the gateway to huge markets in East Africa, Sudan and the Congo. He also said that corruption was not a big deal and was only cited by 3% of investors as a cause for concern.

The VP, who opened the conference, mentioned that bureaucracy (government officers and red tape) was delaying investment in Kenya and preventing development from taking place. e.g. taxing NGO money

It was an informative one-day summit by KIPPRA, with speakers from the government, private sector and donors, which will be followed by two more in the next few months. I wish I had attended the whole day, but at least I have a report of the conference to read.

Comedy moment: As the session broke for morning tea (and the VP to leave), Chris Kirubi (DJ CK) stood and said “we don’t need no stinking tea!” – actually, he wanted the summit to skip tea and continue discussions.