Kenya’s President William Ruto announced on Thursday that the government plans to privatize 35 state-owned companies, with another 100 under consideration.
The move comes after the enactment of a revised law last month, aimed at reducing bureaucracy.
During the African Securities Exchange Association conference in Nairobi, the President stated that although reforms have been implemented, the macroeconomic environment has hindered market growth. As a result, the contribution of security exchanges to economic development remains marginal.
“We have identified the first 35 companies that we are going to offer to the private sector. We have another close to 100 we are working with financial advisers on what to do,” said Ruto in opening remarks at the conference.
Kenya last privatised a state-owned company in 2008 with an initial public offering (IPO) for 25% of the shares in telecommunications firm Safaricom.
In 2009, Kenya’s cabinet approved a list of 26 firms to privatize, including the Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Electricity Generating Company, and banks, a year ago. However, no action has been taken since then.
The East Africa’s largest economy is facing several challenges such as depleted government coffers, skyrocketing inflation, and a plunging currency that has increased its debt repayment costs.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced this month that it had approved a $938 million loan for Kenya. Kenya also has a $2 billion Eurobond repayment due next year.
The IMF has urged the government to focus on reforming public sector firms, specifically Kenya Power and Kenya Airways- Both of these firms suffered record losses in 2022.