Kenyatta said the government was “dedicated to transforming” requirements for businesses and he called on state agencies and the private sector “to change their approach to doing business”.
The new laws introduced a range of regulations dealing with company registrations, the running of companies, insolvency and the setting up of special economic zones.
According to Kenya’s government, “the Companies Act will revolutionise business in the country as it eases the stringent rules that were provided in the older 1947 law”.
Under the new Companies Act (798-page / 8.78 MB PDF), a single individual will be able to establish a private company. Previously, the law required a minimum of two individuals to form a private company. The new law also removes the need for private firms to hold annual general meetings.
The new Insolvency Act (498-page / 5.42 MB PDF) will allow firms in difficulties to “implement survival measures” to try and avoid going into receivership, the government said.
Cabinet secretary for industrialisation Adan Mohamed said the new laws “will make Kenya more business friendly”. He said the new regulations also recognised that small and medium-sized enterprises “play a big role in the economy of the country”.
Kenya Private Sector Alliance chairman Dennis Awori said the new laws “will provide clarity for investors and improve Kenya’s attraction as a preferred investment destination”
The Special Economic Zones Act “will herald a new beginning for Kenya’s industrialisation”, Awori said. “Many countries, especially those in the Far East, industrialised on the back of special economic zones.”
The African Development Bank has said recent discoveries of oil, gas and coal could help propel Kenya to “middle-income country status in the medium term”. The bank said in its Country Strategy Paper for Kenya for 2014-18 (53-page / 1.15 MB PDF) said it wanted to work with development partners and the private sector to “leverage funding” for infrastructure development in Kenya, rather than act as a sole financier.
According to a report released earlier this year, a total of $9.3 billion in ‘impact-investment’ funds have flowed into East Africa over the past five years, with almost half of that amount being disbursed in Kenya. The ‘Landscape for impact investing in East Africa’ report, based on research funded by the UK Department for International Development’s impact programme, said the investments in Kenya exceeded $650 million in that period.
Kenya has also announced plans to finance 57 “key infrastructure projects” under private-public partnership (PPP) schemes. National Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich said in an interview last January that Kenya “is keen to tap the private sector to bridge the infrastructure financing deficit”.