Kenya’s private sector firms have been urged to form partnerships with foreign companies to avoid being left out of big ticket deals.
The Principal Secretary State Department of Public Works Professor Paul Maringa said bigger firms had an array of shared skills that enables them to clinch contracts as well as deep pockets as compared to small individual firms.
"Look at South African firms that have formed partnerships with Australian firms or the Chinese firms where fifty firms come together to form one company with an unrivalled expertise and funds where their government helps them clinch international contracts across the globe,” he said.
Speaking during the inaugural Continuous Professional Development seminar organized by the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya(IQSK) in a Nairobi Hotel, Professor Maringa said Kenyan firms risk losing out on various tenders for various projects across East Africa if they continue marketing themselves as one-person firms.
The PS added that merging firms would enable the Kenyan compete effectively in a global arena since Kenya had signed numerous global pacts that opened its market to skills and capital transfer as a way of boosting development.
IQSK chairman Mr Andrew Mandere also called on Kenyans to urgently look into the integrity question saying runaway graft and cheating in exams adversely affected Kenyan professionals seeking contracts abroad.
“This generation risk bequeathing our children a bad name that makes them globally unfit to take up any job since the world over Kenya is known as a haven of graft. We have seen leaders show utter disrespect of the law and that is bad for our reputation as a nation,” he said.
The one day forum whose theme was, ‘the Construction Industry in Kenya and the Strategic Response to Emerging Trends’ heard that Kenyan firms only competed for small contracts while the large contracts went to international consultancies and other firms that were well endowed.
Saying the Chinese companies had virtually taken over all multi-billion projects in Nairobi, the National Construction Authority(NCA) put it in perspective when it observed that a paltry 22 Kenyan firms were registered as category one providers.
“The rest are 56 Chinese companies and 45 other international companies. 70 per cent of Kenyan firms are registered as fit to handle small projects that are mostly found in the counties,” said Mr David Mathu, who represented NCA’s Executive Director.
At the same time, NCA said that Kenyan contractors would soon access financial support from the government enabling them to compete for multi-billion tenders since the government will provide them with a project guarantee of upto 20 per cent of the project cost.
Mr Mathu said said the National Contractors Development and Guarantee Fund would also enable contractors lease equipment at a fee thereby enabling them compete effectively with the well-endowed foreign firms.
Professor Maringa also urged IQSK to consider incorporating a women policy in their constitution so as to encourage their participation in leadership matters.
Quantity Surveyor Mandere said the country must stop tarnishing its name since it was the brand professionals used while seeking for jobs and contract across the globe.