Kenya's retail sector is gradually recovering from a slump linked to a huge debt pile up, governance hiccups and election related jitters, officials said on Wednesday.
Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Adan Mohamed, said the government is committed to speeding up recovery of the retail sector that contributes an estimated 8 percent to the GDP.
"There is a positive outlook in our wholesale and retail sectors as the government implement a raft of measures to restore their competitiveness after months of slump," Mohamed said.
He spoke in Nairobi during a meeting with key players in the retail sector including the regulator, owners of supermarket chains, suppliers and creditors.
Mohamed said there is an ongoing conversation between the government and stakeholders in the retail sector to explore strategic actions that could revitalize it amid uncertainties linked to elections and stiff competition.
"We have constantly improved the operating environment for retailers by eliminating regulatory hurdles and connecting them to strategic partners.
The government has also come up with a code of practice for retailers to improve governance and managerial practices," said Mohamed.
He added that discussions are ongoing with prospective investors to bail out struggling retail chains that are partly owned by the state.
Mohamed disclosed that an office to promote fair competition in the retail sector will be opened early next year.
He noted the office will address imbalances between forces of supply and demand that have slowed down growth of the retail and wholesale sectors in Kenya.
Kenya's retail sector that employs nearly 8 million people has been experiencing turbulence in the recent past thanks to governance lapses alongside flawed investment decisions. .
The struggling retail chains include Uchumi Supermarket that is partly owned by the state and privately owned Nakumatt holdings.
Mohamed said the state has pumped 5 million U.S. dollars to bail out Uchumi Supermarket while facilitating dialogue with creditors and financiers to rescue Nakumatt holdings that is on the verge of bankruptcy.