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Doing Business in Kenya: Not Totally Krap

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Business Daily Africa carries an article saying that Kenya’s has improved as a place to do business. According to the first five teaser paragraphs on the website, the “First Things Faster, Kenya Competitiveness Benchmark Report 2008” says Kenya’s ranking has improved, up 11 places from 83rd to 72nd in the last year. Woohoo!

Now, if you’re one of the people who has handed over $132 to the Nation Media Group (NMG) for an annual subscription to Business Daily, you’ll have read the full article. And you will have seen that things are not quite as rosy in the garden as the first paragraphs of the article would have as believe.

While Kenya is ranked well in the fields of innovation and research, there is a worry that the burden of taxation on businesses has driven the growth of the jua kali sector, which accounts for 70% of the working population, but a minimum amount of tax revenues. The report also cites the difficulty in getting business loans, corruption and poor infrastructure as other factors that are holding the country back.

I’ve refrained from ragging on NMG for about a while, and I don’t want to start now, but I do have a couple of niggle with the article. First, why is the headline so upbeat? I understand that we need all the good news we can get, but reading the article, there are more criticisms than praise. Surely this should be reflected in the headline? Second, the article only tells us that “local manufacturers” wrote the report, but there is no indication whether it is available for download anywhere, or if copies can be ordered. Are the journalists once again only reporting a politician’s words, or have they read the report themselves? Readers who are interested may want to read the report themselves.

But this is not another one of my digs at NMG. I am trying to be kind, as I’m sure they’re doing the best they can. But small issues like these spoil the reputation of what should be Kenya’s premier media house.

[Image by Oooh.Oooh]



  1. nairobichronicle says:

    For some reason, Nation seems to be trying to create optimism through the way they cover stories. I wish they didn’t have to do that. The work of the press is not to make people feel good but to tell the truth – no matter how unpalatable it may be.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Hi, and thanks for commenting!

    What you say is entirely right: the job of the press is question the authorities, give us the facts, and to separate truth from fiction. If the Nation is no longer willing to do this, it ought to stop calling itself a newspaper and revel in its new status as a feel-good tabloid.

  3. yipe says:

    You know!

    In fact last night I surfed looking for this report and came up with nada!

    Your’e right, this article is really shallow and for NMG of all media houses to publish this report by “local manufacturers” who knows where the next report will come from.

    The headline itself flies in the face of the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2009 where Kenya actually fell 10 places in rankings of the ease of doing business.

    We really need some honesty backed up by at least a downloadable report.

    It looks as if this is a new blog… great debut and we are also following you on twitter.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hello! Yes, this is a brand new shiny blog. It may look like we have a bee in our bonnet about NMG, but we are trying hard to stop bitching about them in case we start looking bitter and obsessive.

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