There has been progress over the years when it comes to business opportunity realization for the Kenyan citizen with Retired President Hon. Mwai Kibaki locking down a directive to award 10% of government contracts to youth in February 2013. His Excellency the President Uhuru Kenyatta took this up a notch last year pushing the needle to 30% covering the youth, women and persons with disability.
While I laud the move, I speak with a bias; inclined to the tech sector that I feel should not be lumped within any of the current segments.
First, we are in the knowledge economy and the orchestrators of value that will underpin the next decade of growth with lean heavily on technology. Second, your seasoned IT entrepreneur may not be youth by definition, but may have spent the last decade or so slowly growing their business amid a most difficult set of circumstances. Lastly, based my estimates, the value of governments total IT spend on projects across all its ministries, based on a dissect of the various master plans is in the region of $ 1.3 billion with realization timelines between 2013 – 2017, bundling facilities from development partners.
As any lawyer will attest the interpretation of the written word can be misconstrued with a wordsmith cleverly dressing loopholes that passes in plain sight. Therefore there is need to redefine and further entrench the position of homegrown businesses in light of the government business opportunity.
Currently, if a development partner extends a grant or a loan toward any project – which still forms a big part of government spending, the conditions fronted along with the facility will supersede the provisions. The move is to have the preference and reservations apply without restriction.
Large multinational companies are diversifying, with the establishment of regional headquarters. While domiciled locally, and therefore currently capable of flying a local company banner to leverage current provisions, the move here is to differentiate between a local and citizen contractors with a direct correlation to shareholding and place of production (goods and services), in a way that does not discourage foreign investment into local companies.
The spirit behind Preference and Reservations is aimed at promoting the “buy Kenyan build Kenya” principle; in line with the government’s objective of growing the industry and aspirations of Vision 2030.
The amendments have the potential to deliver a baseline $ 400 million in revenue for homegrown technology entrepreneurs, an occurrence whose effects will snowball with additional value.