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help geneva;”>“It is your duty to work as closely as you can with us to employ our youth, and secure new markets for your goods and services,” President Kenyatta said.
The President spoke in Addis Ababa, on the second day of his State visit to Ethiopia, at a Kenya-Ethiopia Business Forum that was addressed by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Leading Kenyan private sector figures including Chris Kirubi of Haco Industries, Dr. James Mwangi of Equity Bank and Betty Maina of Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) attended the forum.
President Kenyatta urged Kenyan and Ethiopian business organisations to begin consultations to identify hurdles that need to be cleared to enhance business interaction between the two countries.
“The quicker they identify hindrances to the smooth flow of investment between the countries, the quicker both governments will be able to remove them,” President Kenyatta said.
He disclosed that Kenya is ready to begin consultations on regulations and guidelines that would allow Ethiopian companies to raise investment capital and trade at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
The President said Kenya is inspired by the possibilities of joint ventures between businesses, particularly the potential for cross-listing on regional bourses.
He said the Jubilee Government regards the private sector as a key centre of economic and social development and has built regulatory capacity through statutory bodies with sufficient legal powers to enforce fair trade and pricing practices.
“Equally, the Government has divested itself of its majority shareholding in state commercial companies through the Nairobi Securities Exchange,” the President said.
He noted that the divestiture programme bore fruit in improved corporate governance, as vital business decision-making and management instruments were left to the private sector.
Supported by a strong monetary and fiscal policy framework, President Kenyatta said the private sector in Kenya is now one of the fastest growing in Africa.
“This is the signpost that we wish to plant here today. In the hope that our experience would inspire your practice, I have with me in my delegation experienced private sector executives who will be pleased to share their know-how,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the volume of trade between Kenya and Ethiopia would grow to higher heights. In 2012, Kenya’s exports to Ethiopia stood at $53.2m while imports from Ethiopia were worth $4.1m.
Noting that development resources from international development partners are dwindling, President Kenyatta said Kenya and Ethiopia must embrace alternative means of financing vital development projects in priority sectors.
“It is time, in fact, to deepen our public-private partnerships and to make the private sector’s efficiencies our own. The prizes are growth economies, new jobs, and better public services,” the President said.
To mitigate challenges associated with high costs of production, particularly in energy, the President asked the private sector and business associations in the two countries to join their Governments in containing undesirable business engagements, especially those involving contraband goods and banned products.
“Your cooperation is to your advantage: you will protect the jobs that ultimately underpin your markets, and investments,” President Kenyatta said.
Addressing the Forum, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said he would do “all it takes” to promote trade between Kenya and Ethiopia.
He expressed optimism that special economic zones would soon be created on both sides of their common borders to boost trade and investment.
During the business forum, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce signed an MOU on promoting trade and investment between the two countries through people to people interaction.