Kiprono Kittony, Chairman of media company Radio Africa Group and CEO of telecommunications firm, Capital Realtime Limited, has said that Kenya’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives has failed to support the country’s informal businesses sector.
Speaking at an interview this month, Kittony castigated the Ministry for failing to drive investment within the sector, which accounted for a vast majority of jobs created in Kenya in 2016, according to a report titled the 2017 Economic Survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
The Bureau recently confirmed that an estimated 90% of 832,900 new jobs in Kenya came from the sector, which comprises artisan workers, craftsmen, and small-scale traders last year.
Now Kenya’s government, which has pushed for the industry’s development through a raft of policies, has come under fire for allegedly failing to deliver on its promises.
“The Ministry of Industrialization has done nothing for the Jua Kali sector. That’s the reality. I’m not sure they have a clue what’s going on there,” said Kittony.
‘Jua Kali’, a Swahili word that roughly translates to ‘Hot Sun’, refers to Kenya’s informal sector.
To support the industry, Kenya’s Industrialization Ministry has been at the forefront of a drive dubbed the Buy Kenya Build Kenya initiative, a policy that seeks to promote local industry through procurement of locally made products.
The Ministry said in a statement that it is working with other government agencies to implement the program.
However, Mr. Kittony, who graduated with a Global Executive Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Strathmore University Business School, says the government is not doing enough to support the sector.
His sentiments echo those of Professor Henry Bwisa of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) – one of the country’s leading learning institutions – who said in an earlier statement that a budget that has incentives for market access for the sector would go a long way in assisting its development.
“In my opinion we cannot overemphasize the role the Jua Kali sector plays in Kenya’s development. There is a saying that production is not complete until what is produced reaches the consumer,” Professor Bwisa explained.