The year 2019 will go down in history as one of the most difficult periods in Kenya’s history, with many businesses and individuals eager to see the last of it. As the country ushers in 2020, key captains of industry are optimistic it will herald better tidings and a new phase of growth after the financial woes of the last year.
RAVAL GURU, CHAIRMAN, DEVKI GROUP
The year was good because it was calm politically but quite slow for business, especially in the second half. There were some high moments at the start, which I am hopeful will be replicated in the coming days. We expect 2020 to be a lot better specifically if political fights subside and politicians allow the business environment to improve by ensuring people have money in their pockets. It is a year to watch out for in the manufacturing space in our country.
RICHARD NGATIA, PRESIDENT, KENYA NATIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
I am very optimistic that the tough days are finally behind us for several reasons. Among them is the fact that agriculture - the country’s main economic activity - should yield better results helped by favourable weather conditions. Also, access to credit has been enhanced, which will translate to healthier working capital conditions. Access to credit is more critical to businesses than the cost of credit (lending rates).
RAJUL MALDE, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, PWANI OIL LTD
Overall, 2019 was a tough year. Businesses struggled to sustain sales due to diminishing disposable income among Kenyans, leading to the cost-cutting and unfortunate job losses in the private sector. Liquidity was also tight due to weak government spending. However, 2020 is the season of change. We expect better economic performance due to increased government spending, which will make the economy more liquid and help companies expand and hire more people.
RONALD NDEGWA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SAVANNAH CEMENT
The year 2019 was relatively difficult with depressed building and construction prospects. However, the year 2020 appears very bright, particularly due to the recent lifting of the interest rates ceiling and government interventions for affordable housing efforts. We expect local banks to begin flowing finance to various building and construction projects, which had either stalled or were due for groundbreaking.
JANE KARUKU, MANAGING DIRECTOR, KENYA BREWERIES LTD
We have seen significant progress in the fight against illicit alcohol, and we are optimistic that this will continue into 2020 as we apply the lessons learned in 2019. We hope that these efforts will be amplified, and the multi-agency team will continue cracking down on drinks that are potentially harmful to consumers and those that have entered the market illegally.
MICHAEL JOSEPH, INTERIM SAFARICOM CEO AND KQ CHAIRMAN
In my view, the economy is going to improve significantly because everything seems to be settling. I cannot see anything new coming on that could cause problems. I am hopeful that the improved economy will create jobs too. For KQ, it will be a critical year that we have to get out of the financial hole we are in. We are optimistic that people will have more money in their pockets.
PHYLLIS WAKIAGA, CEO KENYA ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS
The year has been good for the manufacturing sector despite a few hiccups. As the representative of value-add industries in the country, we continue to spearhead policy reforms in the interest of the sector. This is in line with our intention to achieve the government’s Big Four agenda, particularly under the manufacturing pillar in which the sector is expected to contribute 15 per cent of GDP by 2022. The year 2020 promises to be a strong year for the sector, specifically if predictable and stable business environment can be guaranteed in policy formulation and implementation.
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