President William Ruto has tapped a rich pool of business leaders to help his administration implement his economic agenda in what largely mirrors the approach adopted by former leader Mwai Kibaki.
Dr Ruto has appointed a 12-member strong team of private sector leaders to the National Investment Council to help develop strategies to actualise his plan for inclusive economic growth and development.
The plan revolves around empowering economically underprivileged groups through what he calls the “bottom-up economic model” in a country which is struggling to create decent jobs for its skilled labour.
The appointment of the team, the first under the law enacted more than a decade ago, mirrors the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) which has been credited with the country’s economic transformation during the Kibaki era.
Under the advice of NESC, the government socio-economic think-tank, Mr Kibaki’s administration went on to lift domestic output to highs of seven per cent in 2007 from an anaemic one per cent growth he inherited from his predecessor.
That ushered in an era of prosperity, marked by higher tax collections and improved living standards as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, expansion of education opportunities and infrastructure like roads.
Dr Ruto — who rode to power on a platform of deliberately promoting investment and financial instruments targeting millions of unemployed youth, micro-enterprises and farmer groups — has been championing policies which will spur “rapid and inclusive socio-economic transformation”.
The new team, which will be in office for three years from December 1, has been tasked with advising ministries and State agencies on facilitating policies to increase investment and economic growth.
The appointees comprise KCB chief executive Paul Russo, managing director of M-Pesa Africa Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Liaison Group managing director Tom Mulwa, his Gulf Energy counterpart Francis Njogu and World Bank Group’s senior private sector specialist for finance competitiveness and innovation global practice Sarah Ochieng.
Others are the country manager for TradeMark East Africa Ahmed Farah, chief executive for Invest Africa Karen Taylor, partner at investment banking and financial advisory firm NISK Capital Shaila Kyarisiima and Eva Warigia, the CEO of East Africa Private Equity & Venture Capital Association.
Prominent businesspersons David Lang'at of DL Group, Humphrey Maina of Africa Spirits Ltd and Twiga Foods founder and CEO Peter Njonjo have also made the list of the powerful advisory team.
Mr Lang'at, whose firm has interests across sectors including Nyali Centre in Mombasa and tea processing factories in Nandi and Kericho, is an ally of the President and is believed to have been one of his key campaign financiers.
The media-shy businessman, who is behind the proposed Sh200 billion industrial Park in Uasin Gishu, was on Dr Ruto’s visit to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni ahead of August presidential polls.
Mr Kariuki, whose business empire spreads to Janus Continental Group, the Hub Shopping Mall in Karen and the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, is also known to be a close ally of the President.
The Council, chaired by Dr Ruto, also has Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u, Trade’s Moses Kuria, Mithika Linturi (Agriculture), Lands’ Zacharia Mwangi, Tourism’s Peninah Malonza and Soipan Tuya (Environment) as cabinet members.
They are also mandated to promote cooperation between the public and private sectors in the formulation and implementation of policies aimed at spurring investment and economic growth.
They are required to monitor progress in economic growth and development and consult experts for views on development.