Race for KNCCI top seat hots up days to elections

Richard Ngatia (centre) with his running mate Abdulwalli Sharrif and businesswoman Farida Seif with delegates in Malindi last week. [Courtesy]

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) President Richard Ngatia’s hopes of retaining the presidency were given a boost after he secured an endorsement from an additional four regions last week as the race enters its homestretch.

Mr Ngatia, who will be facing opposition from his First Vice President Erick Rutto, has picked seasoned businessman Abdulwalli Sharrif as his running mate.

Dr Rutto’s running mate is Mustafa Ramadhan. Credited with the reinvigoration of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by bringing in financing and financial literacy during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Ngatia was appointed a council member of the global business lobby, World Chambers Federation of the International Chamber Council last December.

Last week, he received backing from county delegates from Mombasa, Tana River, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Lamu, culminating in the signing of a memorandum of understanding which, according to sources, committed support from the entire Coast region at a Town Hall meeting in Malindi.

“Mr Ngatia has brought the Chamber to new levels through introducing structured funding to county chapters and bringing partners such as MasterCard Foundation to support MSMEs in a big way,” said Coast Region Director Hassan Wario.

Recently, chamber members from the larger Lake Region counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Kisii, Nyamira, HomaBay, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Vihiga, Kericho, Nandi, and Migori met to declare their support for Ngatia’s re-election. 

Ngatia has received similar endorsement from the Mt Kenya region counties of Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyandarua and Nyeri.

Murang’a County chapter chairperson Naomi Kamau stressed the push to devolve the chamber’s activities and structures up to the ward levels as a way of growing micro and small businesses countrywide.

Dr Rutto, a medical doctor and businessman, has also been busy seeking votes from delegates around the country as the national polls build up to a hot contest.

A week ago, he received endorsement from county and regional chairpersons from Rift Valley and Western during a forum in Eldoret. County and regional polls were concluded in April, paving the way for the election of the chamber’s president and vice president on June 8. 

Ngatia led a delegation to meet National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, where they pledged support to him, his team said. 

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