19 journalists today met Ms. Betty Maina, CEO of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), during their study tour of Africa in a bid to find out more about growth in the Kenyan economy that is 'technology and youth driven' and with particular focus on mobile developments in the country.
Ms. Maina spoke of the renewed optimism in Kenya despite challenges particularly due to the the opportunities that exist from intra regional trade. "This trade is made possible by regional trade agreements. It is this presence in Africa that persuades us and is renewing optimism about Africa because the goods we trade with each other will have to be industrialised products,” she said.
She also highlighted how the use of technology has enabled progress in the country which has eased business transactions for the SMEs and individual Kenyans. 63% of Kenyans are able to enjoy financial services due to mobile platforms. "All agents and operators operate floats through their bank accounts so the system is firmly entrenched in the banking system of the country. Banks are utilizing new products because of the mobile money platform," Ms. Maina added.
Ms Maina also applauded the innovation of entrepreneurs in Kenya in the information technology sector who are pioneering solutions which are being used the world over.
She also commended the local authorities for allowing the mobile money platform to run in the country which has enabled many people in Kenya to have access to banking services all over the country.
"Mobile money transfers needed to be regulated and was coming alongside regulated banking services and there was a lot of hostility when the system was first introduced. There were limits at the beginning on how much could be transacted per day per person. The central bank was able to accept mobile money but set up a framework to ensure it was not being abused," she added.
The Journalists posed questions on the support accorded by the government of Kenya to the private sector. Ms. Maina responded that the government "is quite consultative in hearing what people are saying and there have been many instances where we have been able to change policy before it is enacted and other instances where the government has gone ahead and done its own thing but on the whole we have a Government which listens to stakeholders."
"Do they have a positive approach to business in Kenya as a whole?" another journalist asked.
"The current government is trying its best but some of decisions are conflictual. Kenya’s labour has become quite expensive for our standards and for our development. One of our conflicts with labour is the absorption of capital intensive processes. In my opinion they are high for the state we are in," Ms. Maina answered.