Raila Odinga: My vision on economy, private sector

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga addresses press on March 2, 2022 at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, after holding a meeting with KEPSA members. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

I'm excited to meet members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance. My mission here is to share with you my vision on the economy and the role of the private sector.

As a politician seeking to be president, I regard the private sector as the engine of the economic growth and job creation. I believe the private sector and the government need to work closely if we are to progress. I wish to see Kenya become a trading nation that manufactures and sells products abroad under the label of Made in Kenya and the private sector must lead that drive. Four, believe we need to tackle corruption ruthlessly both in the private sector in government if we the sector is to deliver to the country.

Over, the years, Kenya has retained a vibrant and resilient private sector. Our private sector has sustained our economy and given us a competitive edge in the region even in our difficult times like the 1990s. During the Grand Coalition Government, we had the Prime Minister’s Round Table with the Private Sector which created a mechanism for collaboration with the public sector. The Round Table enabled the two sectors to clear critical bottlenecks for the good of business and the nation.

My vision is to see the country empower the private sector and make the sector turn Kenya into a trading nation, identified with specific products and services in the African and global export market. Exports of finished products will increase our revenues, create jobs, give us foreign currency reserves, boost our national saving and drive our international competitiveness. Azimio Government will need to prioritise industrialisation. It will be an industrialisation policy that is export-minded and that allows the private sector to drive the export agenda.

Azimio will need to support the private sector to lead a shift from exporting raw materials and agricultural produce and venture into industrial manufacturing with eyes on the international markets. Azimio government will set up a body dedicated to long term planning and regular review meetings on our international trade and export agenda. We will not assume that the private sector is doing the planning. We will join you in the planning.

We will have government-sponsored Monthly Trade Promotion meetings. The meetings will bring together highest-level government officials, key ministries, exporters, researchers, education institutions and trading companies for exchange of ideas, information and goals to improve co-ordination and mutual understanding between private and public sectors. We will unveil an award scheme for excellent exporter and help them to push up their share of African and world market and their contribution to the local and global economy.

As a government, we will offer an aggressive support to the private sector through tax breaks, subsidized credit, state guarantees for private sector borrowing, tariff exemptions and preferential access to imported inputs required to produce export products.

Azimio government will also pursue a deliberate policy of targeting and supporting industries with realistic chances of penetrating the global market based on prevailing situation in the country and the world. Business and trade will be part of our diplomacy. We will pursue an aggressive policy of helping Kenyan companies and consortiums win contracts in foreign markets. Our diplomacy will have to be business-minded in support of our private sector.

We will also pay close attention to helping small and medium sized companies overcome challenges in local and overseas markets and give them export support services and diplomacy interventions.

We will revamp the Export Promotion Council to provide informational and institutional services to domestic producers and exporters. We will provide firms with economic diplomacy and support them with political and economic intelligence.

-This is an abridged version of Raila Odinga’s speech during a meeting with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

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