President William Ruto announced on Thursday, November 23, 2023, that the government of Kenya will be privatizing 35 state-owned businesses and may consider opening up the capital of 100 more due to the East African nation’s financial and economic challenges.
Covid, the knock-on effects of the war in Ukraine, and the Horn of Africa’s historic drought have all severely rattled Kenya’s economy, which is the engine of East Africa.
According to Treasury figures, as of the end of June, the country, home to approximately 53 million people, had a public debt of over 10,100 billion shillings (64.4 billion euros), or roughly two-thirds of its gross domestic product.
“We have identified the first 35 companies that we are going to offer to the private sector, and we have nearly 100 others”, the Kenyan head of state told investors.
The national electricity provider Kenya Power and the airline Kenya Airways, which reported record losses in 2022, were two examples of state-owned businesses that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently urged the Kenyan authorities to reform.
The president approved a law last month that makes it easier for public companies to be privatized.
“We have very lucrative (public) enterprises, but they are stifled by government bureaucracy, whereas the services they offer can be better provided by the private sector”, Mr Ruto also asserted.