Kenya ready to privatise 35 state companies, President Ruto says

Kenya’s President William Ruto said Thursday that his government was ready to privatise 35 state companies “trapped in government bureaucracy” in a bid to boost productivity following a change to laws.

Last month, Ruto’s government signed a revised privatisation bill into law that makes it easier to sell state enterprises to private companies.

The revised law aims to push up the private sector’s participation in the economy, the presidency said at the time of the signing.

“We have identified the first 35 companies that we are going to offer to the private sector,” Ruto told a gathering of African stock market officials in Nairobi.

He added that the government was also exploring options regarding some 100 state-owned firms, saying that many “would-be lucrative companies… are trapped in government bureaucracy, when the services they are offering can be better offered by the private sector.”

“We will make this opportunity available.”

East Africa’s economic powerhouse is facing a host of challenges, including depleted government coffers, skyrocketing inflation and a plunging currency that has led to soaring debt repayment costs.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said this month that it had agreed to a $938-million loan for Kenya, which also has a $2-billion-eurobond repayment due next year.

The IMF also urged Ruto’s government to reform public sector firms, particularly the national electricity supplier — Kenya Power and the national carrier Kenya Airways — which suffered record losses in 2022.

The World Bank said on Monday that it expects to provide the country of 53 million people with $12 billion in support over the next three years.

Kenya had accumulated more than $66 billion (Ksh10.1 trillion) in debt by the end of June — according to Treasury figures — equivalent to around two-thirds of gross domestic product.

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