By Enyichukwu Enemanna
At least 35 state-owned companies “trapped in government bureaucracy” are set for privatisation in a bid to boost productivity following a change to laws, President of Kenya, William Ruto announced on Thursday.
Ruto had last month assented to the revised privatisation bill into law that makes it easier to sell state enterprises to private companies.
The revised law seeks to increase private sector’s participation in the economy, the presidency said at the time of the signing.
“We have identified the first 35 companies that we are going to offer to the private sector,” Ruto told a gathering of African stock market officials in Nairobi.
He added that the government was also exploring options regarding some 100 state-owned firms, saying that many “would-be lucrative companies… are trapped in government bureaucracy, when the services they are offering can be better offered by the private sector.”
“We will make this opportunity available.”
Kenya is facing a host of challenges, including depleting government’s revenue, skyrocketing inflation and a rapid drop in value of the local currency, a situation that has sent its debt repayment costs soaring.
The International Monetary Fund said this month that it had agreed a $938-million loan for Kenya, which also has a $2-billion eurobond repayment due next year.
The IMF also urged Ruto’s government to reform public sector firms, particularly the national electricity supplier Kenya Power and the national carrier Kenya Airways, which suffered record losses in 2022.
The World Bank said on Monday that it expects to provide the country of 53 million people with $12 billion in support over the next three years.
Kenya had accumulated more than 10.1 trillion shillings ($66 billion) in debt by the end of June, according to Treasury figures, equivalent to around two-thirds of gross domestic product.