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FILE PHOTO: Kenyan President William Ruto. /CFP

Kenya ready to privatize 35 state firms

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Kenya’s President William Ruto says that his government was ready to privatize 35 state companies he described as “trapped in government bureaucracy” in a bid to boost productivity.

In October, Kenyan government signed a revised privatization 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.

“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.”

Kenya is facing a host of economic challenges, including depleted government coffers, skyrocketing inflation, and a plunging currency that has sent its debt repayment costs soaring.

The International Monetary Fund, earlier this month, agreed to a 938-million U.S. dollar loan for Kenya, which also has a 2-billion eurobond repayment due next year.

The IMF also urged Kenyan government to reform public sector firms, particularly the national electricity supplier, Kenya Power, and the national air 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 U.S. dollars in support over the next three years.

Kenya had accumulated more than 10.1 trillion shillings (66 billion U.S dollars) in debt by the end of June, according to government figures, equivalent to around two-thirds of gross domestic product.

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