An intense campaign is shaping up at the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) ahead of national elections set for June 8.
Battle lines have been drawn as KNCCI Vice President Erick Ruto launches a bid to unseat his boss, Richard Ngatia, who is defending his seat.
Mr Ngatia rose to the KNCCCI presidency in 2019 following an uncontested election after his opponents pulled out a month to the polls. He took over from Kiprono Kittony.
Ngatia was named the new chairman of the General Assembly of the Great Lakes Region Private Sector Forum in the same year (2019).
On Thursday, Dr Ruto who is a medical doctor and businessman, received an endorsement from county and regional chairpersons from Rift Valley and Western during a strategy meeting in Eldoret.
County and regional elections were concluded in April, paving the way for the election of the chamber’s President and Vice President next month.
Ruto said he is confident of clinching the KNCCI top job and promised to push for the signing of pacts to promote a conducive business environment with the national and county governments.
He launched a joint ticket with Mombasa businessman Mustafa Ramadhan, who is eying the vice president position.
“The linkage between the chamber and the government has not been effective in the last three years,” Ruto said.
“Counties wanted enhanced collaboration with KNCCI but that was not happening.”
His priority will be to build a strong relationship with the government, he said.
“The counties are setting up export processing zones and my leadership should ensure that we capitalise on that opportunity to grow business and create jobs. We will need to have strong partnerships with the devolved units.”
He said he would push for the registration of nearly eight million businesses that he said were operating informally.
In addition, he will ensure that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) access credit and business opportunities that accrue from lobbying and promotions.
“Government data has shown that the country has eight million businesses, but only one million of them are registered,” Ruto told the delegates in Eldoret.
“My first assignment as president of KNCCI is to push for registration of all the eight million businesses so that we all speak in one voice as we secure local and international opportunities.”
In Vihiga, business people are set to go to elections on May 8 to choose their leaders. This will be the first election after five years.
On Wednesday, those vying for the seats met at Mbale for discussion where they laid bare their agendas to the business community.
The hotly contested position is that of the chairperson.
The seat has attracted two aspirants set to square it out as they seek votes from over 250 registered voters.
The current chairperson Billy Nyonje is seeking to retain the seat and the entrance of his deputy, Jacqueline Nyangweso, into the race has hyped the competition.
“Creation of an EPZ will help business and those with goods to add value to their products and this will make Vihiga chapter the most vibrant going forward,” Ms Nyangweso said.
[Additional reporting by Brian Kisanji]