The business community in Mombasa has urged the county government to put in place measures for short-term and long-term planning for businesses growth.
Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Mombasa chapter said there is a need for a pro-business environment, with friendly policies and feedback channels to attract investors.
Speaking during the 9th edition of the Mombasa Business Awards, KNCCI Mombasa chairman Mustafa Ramadhan urged for the review of current policies to address the emerging challenges for businesses to thrive.
“We must also build new strengths to maintain our competitive edge and position the coastal city as a regional trusted hub for logistics and tourism,” said Ramadhan.
Ramadhan emphasized the need to better harness technology, particularly digitalization, which he said enables businesses to expand their markets and transcend their geographical constraints.
He noted that digitalization will help transform industries, cities and economies, adding that the digital economy is now deeply intertwined with the conventional economy.
The KNCCI official reiterated that innovation is fundamental for progress and that the county requires more creative solutions.
“As business people, we need to be enablers of disruptive thinking, risk-taking and innovation if we want to keep pace with the evolving global demands and trends,” said Ramadhan.
Country director of Kenya Trademark East Africa Ahmed Farah said automating the services of key government trade agencies demonstrated how technology helps create resilient trading systems that can withstand shocks.
He gave an example of the Integrated Tea Trading System (iTTS) at the Mombasa Tea Auction which he said has aided uninterrupted trading of tea as the physical bourse closed.
“The automation of the ordinary certificates of origin issued by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry has made it easy for exporters to acquire this vital export document at the convenience of their offices or homes,” said Farah.
He said that as TMEA, they have continued to support the Kenya Revenue Authority’s, integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) which enabled faster clearance processes for businesses at ports of entry.
iCMS he said, integrates and harmonizes customs processes into one system, consequently enhancing efficiency in customs and border control operations and reducing cargo clearance time by at least 60 per cent.
“Reducing cargo clearance time at the Port of Mombasa has received a boost through the construction of roads, the establishment of Service Level Agreements between port agencies, and the improvement of systems,” he said.
He added that TMEA will continue to support increased trade for job creation and improved livelihoods by reducing barriers to trade.
This he said will be done through infrastructure development, removal of non-tariff barriers, standards improvement and adoption of ICT for trade to increase efficiency and transparency.
“We are working with the Government of Kenya to develop its African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Strategy and a draft road map for enhancing the competitiveness of Kenyan firms. This will guide the country’s engagement in intra-Africa trade,” said Farah.
He said TMEA is currently supporting the county government of Mombasa to conduct a feasibility study of the proposed Miritini Special Economic Zone.
If done well, Farah says, the Miritini SEZs are a great vehicle for international trade and foreign direct investment to drive economic development.
“It will reassure investors and those exploring business in Mombasa County that the mitigation of risk can be reduced or eliminated,” he said.
Mombasa governor Abdulswamad Nassir said his government has been working closely with KNCCI to support an enabling business environment in the county.
Nassir has in his previous engagement with the business community proposed collapse of all licenses into one as a way of encouraging the ease of doing business in Mombasa.
“There is a lot we are currently doing with KNCCI to see how we can support businesses, we have been working together on a number of issues so we hope for good things to come,”
Nassir added that the issue on licensing is already in the Mombasa County Finance Bill 2022 and is currently at the county assembly for debate.
On Friday, the Mombasa County Assembly reconvened for a special sitting and passed the Mombasa County Finance Bill 2022.
By Mohamed Hassan