President William Ruto arriving at the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Annual General Meeting in Nairobi on November 10, 2022. He was accompanied by DP Rigathi Gachgua, KNCCI President Richard Ngatia, Trade CS Moses Kuria and Foreign Affairs CS Alfred Mutua among others. [Photo/ KBC]
President William Ruto arriving at the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Annual General Meeting in Nairobi on November 10, 2022. He was accompanied by DP Rigathi Gachgua, KNCCI President Richard Ngatia, Trade CS Moses Kuria and Foreign Affairs CS Alfred Mutua among others. [Photo/ KBC]

President William Ruto on Thursday, November 10 addressed the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) annual general meeting in Nairobi, using the opportunity to highlight various initiatives his administration is supporting to boost trade and commerce.

Reiterating his desire to grow the digital economy, improve connectivity and empower Kenyans, particularly low-income earners, traders and business people, Ruto disclosed plans to manufacture ‘the cheapest smartphone in Africa’.

The President stated that the phone would cost under Ksh5,000 – noting its potential to improve smartphone penetration and internet access in the country. High smartphone prices have been among the biggest hindrances of utilization of 4G and 5G networks in Kenya, keeping many out of the world of possibilities offered by the high-speed connections.

“A smartphone that can do everything you want. In the next 8 to 12 months we will have the cheapest smart phone in Africa, manufactured in Kenya,” he vowed. Without offering details, Ruto stated that the government was working closely with industry stakeholders on the plan.

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The President further stated that the administration was keen on supporting the growth of SMEs and enabling easier access to financing for entrepreneurs. He cited the nomination of Simon Chelugui as Cabinet Secretary for SMEs and Cooperatives as a key plank in the plan.

Chelugui had previously stated that the government will roll out the Hustlers Fund by December 1 with a personal finance product offered in partnership with saccos, chamas and cooperative societies, followed by credit for SMEs in 2023 and later credit for startups.

“I intentionally decided to create a ministry of SME’s and Cooperatives to make sure SME’s are organized and are business and funding-ready; to create big corporations out of SME’s,” Ruto stated.

Ruto went on to state that the government was keen on making it easier for Kenyan firms to export products, disclosing plans to digitize much of the regulatory process.

“Export documents will be digitised to reduce transaction costs and business information will also be digitised and consolidated in an integrated portal,” he pledged.

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