East African private sector closely watching Kenyan elections

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By LUKE ANAMI

The East African private sector is calling on Kenya to hold peaceful elections on August 9 to ensure the movement of goods on the Northern Corridor.

“We expect a smooth transition and a fair electoral process without disrupting economic activities and avoiding a repeat of what happened in 2007,” said John Kalisa, CEO of East African Business Council.

Kenya has struggled to ensure its neighbors the safety of their goods and security on the northern route that connects Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and DR Congo to the port of Mombasa, with the secretary of the Interior Cabinet Fred Matiang’i, assuring the region last week of maximum security during the election period.

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“We are well prepared for the elections,” he said, “and there is no evidence to warrant the alarm. This is the government’s assurance to our development partners.

“The government has put in place an infrastructure that will see the movement of goods from the port of Mombasa to the port of Kisumu for onward transmission to Uganda and DRC,” Dr Kevit Desai, Principal Secretary of the EAC in Kisumu.

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The Kenya Manufacturers Association (KAM) says that whenever there is an election, business tends to slow down, but the country remains resilient and will conduct a peaceful election and transition.

“Historically, there has been a downturn in business during election years, and this year is no different,” said KAM chief executive Tobias Alando. “We have witnessed a wait-and-see attitude on the part of investors, local and foreign, before embarking on new projects or expanding existing ones. This has an impact on the creation of jobs and wealth and, ultimately, on the performance of the sectors.

In Kenya, businesses and citizens are struggling under the weight of additional punitive taxes imposed by governments, which have been enacted through the new Finance Acts. But KAM asserts that the development of any nation depends on elected leaders, so elections are a fundamental part of a country’s prosperity.

“We need to see the polls not as a stand-alone event that cripples our lives, but as an integral part of our day-to-day decision-making,” Mr. Alando said.

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