President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday declined to read his speech when he officially closed a two-day small and medium enterprises (SMEs) forum, saying his government had failed the sector.
Kenyatta said most government officials tasked with ensuring better conditions for SMEs have never visited the traders in their working areas to see the difficulties they face.
He said both the national and county governments have failed to deliver on past pledges made to the traders, citing promises made in 2014 to build roads the populous Gikomba market but are yet to be implemented.
“I will not read my speech because it is shameful for the government. “I’m embarrassed to stand here in front of you people to be reminded of what we should have done many years ago,” Kenyatta said.
The President also hit at Nairobi governor, Mike Sonko for City Hall’s failure to construct proper drainage systems for the traders at the popular Gikomba market.
The market is home at least 14,000 traders but it is a nightmare whenever it rains due to the poor drainage and flooded thin roads making it hard for buyers to access.
Kenyatta was responding to numerous concerns raised by SMEs at the two-day event, with most hitting out at the government for lack of proper infrastructure, high power tariffs and lack of protection from international players.
He instead directed a similar meeting be held in a month’s time where the relevant state agencies will update the small scale manufacturers on the measures put in place to provide an enabling environment.
SMEs are the country’s biggest employer with the government banking on them to create more jobs and reduce the unemployment rate amongst the youth which stood at 22 per cent according to a United Nations Human Development report released last year.
Data by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates that there are more than 17 million SMEs registered in Kenya with 98 per cent of them contributing about 25 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).