Business, Economy

How Kenyan CEOs Can Secure the Future of our Nation

At least sev­en out of ten work­ing Kenyans are engaged in the pri­vate sec­tor. Seem­ing­ly unap­pre­ci­at­ed by many, this data from the Kenya Nation­al Bureau of Sta­tis­tics under­scores the crit­i­cal role the pri­vate sec­tor plays in secur­ing liveli­hoods for Kenyans.

In this regard, the CEOs who steer the medi­um-sized and large com­pa­nies in Kenya hold in their hands, the jobs of mil­lions and they are, there­fore, our unsung heroes. That is why I was keen to study the recent­ly released PWC Kenya 2024 CEO Sur­vey of March 2024, and high­light some of its findings.

I was glad to dis­cov­er the cau­tious opti­mism of Kenyan busi­ness lead­ers despite the glob­al and local eco­nom­ic chal­lenges. They are not just blind­ly opti­mistic. They have drawn reas­sur­ance from the Kenyan mar­ket, which con­tin­ues to shore up the pri­vate sec­tor through a resilient pur­chas­ing pow­er. In oth­er words, it is us, the Kenyan peo­ple keep­ing busi­ness­es alive and in so doing cre­at­ing mil­lions of jobs. This shows the resilience and adapt­abil­i­ty that have long char­ac­ter­ized our nation’s pri­vate sector.

Fur­ther, the sur­vey also under­scores areas where imme­di­ate action is need­ed to ensure sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic growth. Indeed, there is always room for improvement.

First­ly, the wider East African mar­ket remains untapped. Near­ly nine out of ten CEOs sur­veyed are keen on seiz­ing East Africa’s eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties. They real­ize that the peo­ple of Ugan­da, Tan­za­nia, Rwan­da, Burun­di, South Sudan and Soma­lia can inject fur­ther growth into their busi­ness­es. How true!

It remind­ed me of my pre­vi­ous meet­ings with Burundi’s Vice Pres­i­dent and how those encoun­ters opened my eyes to cross-bor­der eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties in this region. The Sur­vey has under­lined the need for such a region­al mind­set. By lever­ag­ing the col­lec­tive strengths of the East African Com­mu­ni­ty, we can dri­ve inno­va­tion, improve com­pet­i­tive­ness, enhance region­al trade and cre­ate jobs for mil­lions. Even if yours is a small busi­ness, explore the East African region as your mar­ket­place, as fer­tile ground to grow your business.

Sec­ond­ly, the Sur­vey spot­light­ed inno­va­tion as the heart of growth. In this regard, if you are a busi­ness own­er, you need to arm your­self with a fresh pair of eyes! Do things dif­fer­ent­ly. Break new ground. Such an inno­v­a­tive approach has caused 60% of Kenyan CEOs to smile all the way to the bank. They attribute a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of their sales to new prod­ucts and ser­vices. This is a clear call for busi­ness­es to invest in research and devel­op­ment, embrace tech­nol­o­gy, and fos­ter a cul­ture of cre­ativ­i­ty. The abil­i­ty to adapt and inno­vate will not only dri­ve rev­enue growth but also ensure long-term via­bil­i­ty in an ever-chang­ing market.

The sur­vey also high­lights sig­nif­i­cant threats, with infla­tion and macro­eco­nom­ic volatil­i­ty being top con­cerns for Kenyan CEOs. Infla­tion can dri­ve up costs for busi­ness­es, result­ing in high­er prices for con­sumers and low­er prof­its. Small and big busi­ness­es alike are feel­ing this pinch. To over­come these hur­dles, busi­ness­es need smart mon­ey man­age­ment, find­ing new ways to make mon­ey, and push­ing for sta­ble eco­nom­ic poli­cies. They should also active­ly cut costs and find ways to work better.

Excit­ing­ly, arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (AI) is one of the emerg­ing ways that busi­ness­es can work bet­ter. Many Kenyan CEOs (78%) believe new AI tech­nol­o­gy will save them time, but they’re also wor­ried about cyber­at­tacks. To stay safe, busi­ness­es need strong cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and a cul­ture where every­one takes dig­i­tal respon­si­bil­i­ty seri­ous­ly. I sug­gest that Eli­ud Owa­lo, our cher­ished Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Infor­ma­tion, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and the Dig­i­tal Econ­o­my pro­vides con­sis­tent lead­er­ship in entrench­ing this culture.

Cor­re­spond­ing­ly, there was music to my ears because Cli­mate change remains a crit­i­cal issue for Kenya’s econ­o­my, with most CEOs active­ly imple­ment­ing cli­mate actions. This is a call to action for busi­ness­es to pri­or­i­tize sus­tain­abil­i­ty, invest in renew­able ener­gy, and devel­op eco-friend­ly prod­ucts and ser­vices. I there­fore sug­gest that CEOs should always ask them­selves this ques­tion – is my busi­ness deplet­ing the envi­ron­ment or replen­ish­ing it? That is the gospel accord­ing to PWC. Think green, Act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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