Businessman Richard Ngatia was sworn in as president of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He won the seat in an uncontested election after his opponents pulled out last month.
Mr Ngatia said the business community elected him with the hope of a new beginning and a future projected with a better investment environment.
“I assume this office with humility and I thank all those who bestowed confidence in my leadership and I promise to work with you to develop business and see our country develop,” he said in his acceptance speech.
Ngatia said his priority was to establish linkages and see that business gets a conducive environment for entrepreneurship to thrive.
Present during the ceremony in Nairobi were Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, outgoing KNCCI Chairman Kiprono Kittony and businessman Chris Kirubi, among other renowned business people and chamber members.
The new position of president, formerly titled chairman, was created through changes undertaken last year in a bid to revamp the chamber.
At the meeting, Ngatia was declared president by the chairman of the Independent Electoral Board, Benjamin Onkoba, before more than 470 delegates who had travelled to Nairobi for the crucial elections.
He thereafter took an oath of office in a ceremony administered by lawyer Kihara Njuguna in the presence of his wife Nancy.
In elections for other posts held yesterday, medical doctor and businessman Eric Ruto from Uasin Gishu trounced two more famous rivals, Gor Semelang’o and Fatma El Mawy, to take the vice-president seat.
Dr Ruto received 282 votes as Fatma came second with 146 votes while Semelang’o had 27 votes.
Delegates from Tharaka Nithi and Wajir Counties however had a bad day as they were turned away by Mr Onkoba for flouting KNCCI electoral rules.
“We cannot work with counties who have not decided how to move forward,” said Onkoba after 21 Wajir delegates turned out to vote against an expected 11 delegates.
The vote was conducted through secret ballot at the Bomas of Kenya.
Outgoing Chairman Kittony said he was leaving a better KNCCI after he found a wrecked house where officers would pocket even money from the Certificate of Origin collected form importers.
“Despite stiff competition from business lobbies such as Kenya Private Sector Alliance, the chamber is now standing strong after rising from the ashes,” he said, adding that he has left the chamber with profits even though it is a non-profit organisation.
The chairman of Board of Trustees Patrick Obath urged the new office to continue with the war to recover and secure KNCCI property.
“We are continuing with the effort including a success of securing title deeds in Thika,” he said, adding that past wars at the chamber was as a result of land titles being in individual hands.
The elections also saw new regional directors come into office including Hassan Wario for Coast, Paul Ouma in Nyanza, Baskuone Kiplagat for North Rift and Jacob Bodana for Upper Eastern.
Others were George Karanja for Central region and Omar Sadique for North Eastern.
The rest of the regional directors - Simon Kitheka of Lower Eastern, John Francis Theuri of Nairobi, Rodgers Mulemi of Western and Francis Kimeria of South Rift - were unopposed
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