Captains of industry give positive projections on 2022

Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) Managing Director John Musunga. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The year 2021 came to an end with a mixed bag of fortunes for the local economy, although some key players are unanimous that it has been a resilient ride in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking when he delivered his New Year message, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said Kenya’s Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 9.9 per cent in the third quarter as a result of the easing of Covid-19 containment measures. 

“Economic recovery from the effects of Covid-19 pandemic continued in the third quarter of 2021 as a result of easing of containment measures. Real GDP grew by 9.9 per cent in the third quarter,” he said.

“This follows an earlier impressive second quarter performance of 10.1 per cent of Real GDP growth.” 

Drove growth

Mr Yatani outlined the key sectors that drove the growth led by education, accommodation and food serving activities, transportation and storage, manufacturing and insurance activities.

The Government, the CS said, is committed to ongoing economic recovery efforts. 

“The 9.9 per cent Real GDP growth is testament that the economy is recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and that the Government’s interventions are working for the good of our people. I thank Kenyans for their hard work and resilience.”

In the new year, various industry executives appear to share Yatani’s rebuilding hopes and are expressing optimism on their 2022 prospects, notwithstanding the General Election jitters.

We spoke to a few captains of industry on this year’s outlook:

John Musunga, Managing Director, Kenya Breweries Ltd

Last year was a period of recovery for us at Kenya Breweries as we continued to adjust to the challenges that came with the second year of the pandemic. We invested ahead to return our business to our pre-Covid trajectory, focused our efforts on emerging trade channels and doubled down on our sustainability initiatives, including publishing our first sustainability report. We were delighted to partner with the Government to procure and provide vaccines to our employees, trade partners and customers, consumers and the communities around our facilities. We are hopeful that the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will support the return to near normalcy. 

Looking ahead in 2022, our hope is that the macro environment is conducive for our citizenry and business, particularly as we enter the electioneering period. We also pray that the Government reconsiders the unhealthy annual excise duty tax increases that have not only hurt business but also led to the proliferation of illicit alcohol, counterfeits and contraband, which harm consumers and negatively impact beer tax collection. We need a more predictable approach to taxation that allows industry to thrive and in turn contribute more to economic growth and ultimately tax collection. In 2022, we shall be celebrating a big milestone at KBL, 100 years of our existence. Kenyans can expect to see and hear more from us.

Chris Flowers, CEO Kakuzi Plc

At Kakuzi, we are closing the year on a high note following the recent release of our 2020 environmental, social and governance report, the four avocado excellence awards and the disbursing of our annual bonus payouts to our avocado smallholder partners. We appreciate our employees who made 2021 a successful year, and we look forward to walking together in 2022. We are delighted that we have made critical headway on the business front. For example, we are committed to enhancing our avocado and macadamia production capacity with several recent investments valued at more than Sh100 million. We currently have a thriving new immature avocado development area to boost our avocado production, expected to come online in the next few years. Still, land preparation for a new avocado crop is also underway in a crop area previously under pineapple production.

We appreciate that no company can operate in isolation on the community front. Thus, at Kakuzi, we place utmost emphasis on the community that has given us the licence to trade. We see it as a critical pillar in our sustainability journey. As a result, in 2022, we shall be further stepping up our community engagements, as would be expected of a progressive corporate.

Freida Brown, Interim Vice-Chancellor, United States International University-Africa

Freida Brown, Interim Vice-Chancellor, United States International University-Africa [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

At USIU-Africa, we are confident that the new year portends excellent tidings for many economic sectors, including the academic delivery institutions. We successfully managed to integrate diversified educational delivery systems in 2021 that will enable USIU-Africa to act as an integrated academic centre that can deliver fulfilling, seamless physical and virtual academic programmes. This was a heavy investment that involved the integration of ICT systems and also human capital training. The year also saw an international executive search commencement as we sought to retain a substantive vice-chancellor. We are optimistic that the new year will see us welcoming a new competitively recruited vice-chancellor.

Alongside the management aspects, we shall be focusing our energies on executing the latest five-year Strategic Plan 2021-26. This is a very robust plan founded on solid pillars to allow USIU-Africa to thrive. It has considered the current disruptions in the global and national higher education system with its varied challenges and opportunities for growth. Undoubtedly, 2022 will be a good year, and we are looking forward to fulfilling experiences for the new intake and continuing students.

Anastasia Nyalita, CEO Kenya Health Federation

The Kenyan economy has shown remarkable recovery capacity in the face of the pandemic. At the Kenya Health Federation (KHF), we are upbeat that 2022 will be a better year for players in the healthcare delivery sector. The year saw several healthcare providers affiliated with KHF making critical investments to boost healthcare delivery. A number of our members managed to expand and optimise their branch footprint. Many other existing providers were also able to enhance their delivery capacity by integrating new facilities such as extra beds, ICU equipment, oxygen delivery systems, and even medical transport solutions. All these critical investments estimated at close to Sh5 billion will serve as healthcare enablers. Even as we navigate the current Covid-19 wave, KHF is confident that the local healthcare system and public and private infrastructure are better placed to handle the challenges.

KHF members now have better information reporting systems, which will significantly complement the capacity of the public health information system. To further support health data sharing, KHF has partnered with Smart Applications International, a technology solutions company, to enable the KHF to have an automated system. This information technology system will allow all KHF member organisations to easily collect and access crucial healthcare data within the country at the touch of a button. Therefore, we look forward to better health outcomes in 2022. We continue to support critical reforms touching on public institutions such as the National Health Insurance Fund and the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.

Nasim Devji, Group CEO, DTB Bank

The year 2021 was a more positive one compared to 2020. Various industries including banking drew strength from the resilience born in 2020. Business resumption was more evident, and this indeed relieved the economic burden that dominated the previous year. As far as banking is concerned, there was a shift in consumer behaviour, which saw the adoption of digital channels reach a historic high. In the new year, we remain committed to supporting the SME sector by continuing to pioneer new customer-centric innovations, thereby spurring economic growth in the country.

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