The current unified Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) inaugurated in 1965 brought together three hitherto independent chapters that represented the African, Asian and European interests respectively.
Given its age, the amalgamated chamber approximates the pulse of independent Kenya. It should, therefore, pride itself as an edifice whose history confers it the onus and privilege of walking the path of progress with Kenya’s national interests—especially socio-economic—in empathetic unison. And that is why the chamber, going forward, should deliberately walk the ‘Big Four’ talk.
How exactly should this be done? Here are my thoughts. For starters, each of the Big Four has some direct relevance to the work and objectives of the chamber. If it is food security, our farmers need to progressively embrace farming as a commercial undertaking through which they can prosper.
Commercialising agriculture, driving agro-processing and marketing of finished agro-products are areas of interest to the chamber.
The proposed construction of affordable houses will involve a multitude of suppliers, tradesmen and contractors the majority of them registered or eligible members of the chamber.
Again, this is an area of collaboration whose net effect can ultimately enforce desired standards across all 47 counties where the chamber chapters and also nationally. Regarding health, many Kenyans right across the width and breadth of the country make a living from health-related commercial interests.
From landlords who house clinics and pharmacies to importers and locally-based manufacturers of medicines and medical equipment the number of healthcare services and products providers are in their thousands.
Synergies directed specifically towards supporting the pursuit of universal health would easily find the chamber as a useful if not formidable focal point. Without industry and therefore matters industrialisation, the chamber is incomplete.
The agenda on industrialisation under the ‘Big Four’ is right up the alley of the chamber. In fact, I know no other better forum from which to engage industrialists and industrialisation under the ‘Big Four’ other than the chamber.
The natural home for activities that will make industrialisation come fully alive is where scores of industrialists, both current and would-be are already enlisted.
The relevance of the chamber in setting the stage for the implementation of the ‘Big Four’ is clearly evident and justifiable.
Since the ‘Big Four’ agenda is less of a destination and more of a journey, it is critical that deliberate steps that will ensure relevant building blocks are progressively laid in place. I have a few ‘Big Four’ building blocks in mind. One, creating a culture of progressively sensitising targeted groups through the chamber’s network.
The chamber can craft a special purpose vehicle dubbed, say, ‘Jukwaa la Nne Kuu’ or simply ‘Jukwaa Mashinani’. These could be monthly or bi-monthly forums organised to drive desired progress for the ‘Big Four’ and to gather data that would assist in tweaking strategy as we progress and when necessary.