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World Bank Group and Kenya Government Launch Competitive Sector Initiative

January 31, 2011

Nairobi, Kenya, January 25, 2010 – The World Bank Group and the Government of Kenya today launched an initiative to reform and strengthen Kenya’s most competitive sectors to help the country spur economic growth, and reach a target of 10 percent annual growth by 2012.

The Competitive Partnerships Initiative was developed following consultations with stakeholders to identify the key economic sectors to concentrate on. They singled out tourism and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) as the leads sectors for reform. The initiative will also include a review Kenya’s regulatory and tax environment, skilled and trained labor, access to new technologies, and current public-private partnership, all considered important to help Kenya increase competitiveness.

Raila Odinga, Kenya’s Prime Minister, said, “The Competitive Partnerships Initiative will help Kenya achieve and sustain a GDP growth rate target of 10 percent per annum from 2012 going forward. The approach will borrow from international best practice and will be facilitated through a partnership between the public and private sectors. This approach will enable us to focus on specific issues and discuss and identify challenges and bottlenecks facing us, and develop appropriate actions across each delivery chain.”

“Kenya is a prime candidate for the Competitive Partnerships primarily because it has a vibrant private sector and strong momentum for public-private dialogue,” said John Zutt, World Bank Country Director in Kenya.

Jean-Philippe Prosper, IFC Director for East and Southern Africa, said, “The Competitiveness Partnerships Initiative offers countries a platform to enable them to compete in today’s global economy. It looks at a relative short-term time horizon and offers the Kenyan private sector a key role.”

This sectoral approach has been successfully tested in other countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore (in electronics), Morocco (in the car parts sector), and South Africa (in the wine industry).

Kenya’s Office of the Prime Minister is taking the lead on this new initiative, with the National Economic and Social Council, and the support of the World Bank Group. It builds upon two sets of initiatives that have been running the last two years: the sector development initiatives and the public private dialogue.

Initial reform efforts in Kenya will focus on tourism and ICT. Lessons learned from these two pilot sectors will guide future reforms in a number of other sectors.

About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.

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