New PSs take office with vows to drive Kenya Kwanza agenda
Several newly appointed Principal Secretaries officially took over offices yesterday following their swearing-in last Friday.
Among those who assumed office include Raymond Omollo (Interior), Dr Juma Mukhwana (Industry) and Abubakar Hassan (Investment Promotion).
Outgoing Interior PS Karanja Kibicho caused a stir when he drove himself to his Harambee House office to hand over to his successor, Omollo.
Kibicho would later drive himself out of the building after the function.
Dr Mukhwana and Hassan took over from their predecessor, Kirimi Kaberia at the ministry’s headquarters at the NSSF building. Speaking during the handover ceremony, Kaberia proposed a joint succession ceremony to encourage cooperation between the two State departments and prevent the creation of silos.
He urged Mukhwana and Hassan to work together to discharge their duties, noting that the functions of their respective departments were related.
Kaberia also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve as PS and proposed commensurate funding for the sector to enable it to fulfil its mandate.
“This is a team you can rely on. I have worked in five different ministries, and this is by far one of the best teams I have worked with. There is a lot of cumulative experience here. The foundation has been laid for you. You do not have to dig. You just have to build,” Kaberia said.
Incoming Industry PS Mukhwana thanked President William Ruto for his appointment and pledged to improve the ease of doing business in Kenya.
He also undertook to set out clear guidelines for promoting local industry and ensuring prompt payment of local suppliers of goods and services. “We are not going to promote industrialisation for local people unless we figure out payments. When they import from India and Japan, they pay for everything upfront. They pay insurance before goods are cleared. But when the suppliers are Kenyan, they harass them. Why can’t they pay local suppliers with M-Pesa? Why must you go to their premises to receive payment?” Mukhwana asked.
The former Kenya National Qualifications Authority chief executive also made a commitment to boost local industries such as Rivatex and East African Portland Cement and protect producers’ rights in partnership with State agencies such as the Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Institute of Industrial Property.
However, he appeared to contradict President Ruto’s COP27 remarks on the phasing out of fossil fuels, saying plans to shift from coal to sustainable energy may be shelved to enable Kenya to achieve industrialisation.
“Nobody has industrialised without coal. Let us do green manufacturing as a PR exercise. The price of coal today is Sh24, 540 a tonne. Whoever is selling it to you is telling you not to mine your own coal. How do we make it?” Mukhwana posed.
Outgoing PS Desai highlighted EAC department’s achievements, citing an improvement in Kenya’s ranking in the global Ease of Doing Business Index, from 134 in 2014 to 56 in 2021.
He attributed the improvement to cooperation between various State departments and agencies.
Desai also cited budget allocations as a challenge and recommended an increase in funding for the department to match the volume of trade within the region. Incoming Investment Promotion PS Hassan stated his commitment to Kenya Kwanza’s investment vision and announced plans to deepen capital markets to improve access to cheap, sustainable long-term capital.
“It is time to turn Kenya Kwanza’s hopes into sustainable agendas and move from the think tank phase. Our job is to power Kenya Kwanza’s investment vision,”
The former CMA Market Operations Director proposed an investment-bank model for the packaging of investment opportunities to make Kenya an attractive investment destination for foreign direct investors.
Hassan tasked Acting KenInvest Managing Director Olivia Rachier with putting together a working group to develop a strategic plan to present to Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria on February 14, 2023.