Successful Public-Private Dialogue: The Kenyan Perspective

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“The work of development is too important to be left in the hands of governments alone. It is the responsibility of everyone. Especially the business community.” This was Betty Maina’s main point in her speech last week at the 8th Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) Workshop in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The workshop explored how the government, private sector, and civil society organizations can effectively use PPD platforms for collaborative governance and leadership in addressing difficult challenges. Through its collaborative process, PPD provides a structured, participatory, and inclusive approach to policymaking directed at reforming governance and the business climate.

As the CEO of CIPE partner the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Maina spoke on the crucial role that multi-stakeholder PPD platforms can play in building a better enabling environment for business. Maina recognized the social, economic and environmental challenges that we face, and the important role the business community can play in tackling those challenges.

“Instinctively people recognize that [these] challenges demand a new kind of leadership, a new way of doing things,” she said. “Business, like governments, will have to be in the forefront of this change.  No one can do it alone.”

One need to look no farther than Kenya as an example of the private sector’s role in solving societal problems. During the 2007 election crisis, the business community was crucial in supporting peace efforts and dialogue which helped prevent further violence. The business community was also instrumental in supporting the development of Kenya’s new constitution in 2010 and now plays a critical role in its implementation.

For Maina, the purpose of PPD is to pursue a shared vision, joint problem solving, and joint value creation among the participating members. Such a collective resolve can be more valuable and impactful than what can be achieved through the efforts of individual initiatives. “The main goal of a multi-stakeholder process is to see change in policy and implementation,” she said. “Government policies create the environment through which businesses can thrive.” Partnerships, therefore, are key in building an enabling business environment.

To have a successful multi-stakeholder platform, according to Maina, the participants must do the following:

  • Identify specific issues that affect the business environment and economic progress and which need priority attention.
  • Carry out joint analysis and research which will better inform the policy formulation process and subsequent implementation
  • Pool resources, talents and other capabilities of a diverse range of stakeholders, thereby strengthening the capacity to effect change
  • Share information on problems and solutions, and promote greater levels of understanding and trust between the various stakeholders
  • Adopt change in policy and implementation of legislation and regulations.

CIPE has been actively involved in supporting and facilitating PPD around the world, including KAM. CIPE is supporting KAM and other private sector partners to advocate county-level policy and regulatory reforms in Kenya. I highly suggest checking out CIPE’s latest Economic Reform Feature Service article on public-private dialogue, which provides a helpful overview of PPD, its purposes, and its benefits with various examples from around the world.

In Cambodia, for example, government-private sector forums have resulted in an estimated $69.2 million impact from reforms. Dialogue in Senegal between the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector and the government resulted in a tax code that that more effectively integrated the SME sector into the formal economy. Meanwhile, sector-specific PPD processes helped the Egyptian citrus sector to grow its exports 14-fold in value and increased cruise passengers to Izmir, Turkey 100-fold. There are many more examples of the success that PPD has shown in reforming government policy to improve governance and the business climate in a democratic and transparent way.

You can learn more and get involved further in the PPD conversation through the following:

Ryan Musser is a Program Assistant for Africa at CIPE.

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