Moi leads 'A' team to crucial London talks.

Author:Vesri, Anver
Position:Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi

This month Kenya faces a critical test of its economic reform programme during both a major investment conference hosted by the CBI in London and a World Bank consultative group meeting in Paris. Anver Versi and Paul Redfern in London and our Economics Correspondents in Kenya have compiled this report.

The Paris Club meeting, which will follow hotly on the heels of this month's Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Conference, has assumed such importance for Kenya that President Daniel arap Moi himself is leading the charge.

With him will be what is surely Kenya's "A" economics team. Finance Minister Mr Musalia Mudavadi, who, over a short space of time, has already collected a crop of international bouquets for his economic reforms, will spearhead Kenya's determined campaign to regain international confidence.

Last chance conference?

Also in the team for the day-long London conference will be Mr Katana Ngala, the Tourism Minister, Mr Simeon Nyachae, the Agriculture Minister, Mr Kirugi Mukindia, the Commerce and Industry Minister and Mr Micah Cheserem, the Governor of the Central Bank.

Some have dubbed the event "Kenya's last chance conference". While this is too dramatic a description, there is no doubt that the Kenya team will have to convince investors and donors that they are genuinely committed to fiscal, economic and political reforms.

Due to a whole variety of factors, growth has been declining since 1989 and last year, it managed a meagre 0.4%. However, what is really on the agenda is the package of steps the government has taken to diffuse internal political tensions - most of which were sparked off during the first multi-party elections in 1992 - and what degree of transparency and accountability is being built into governance.

A series of high-level corruption scandals, including the Goldenburg scam which gained almost Italian proportions, has further undermined investor and donor confidence and cast doubt over the government's ability to police the economy effectively.

Mr Mudavadi and his team have the Herculean task of cleaning out the reeking financial stables they have inherited. So far, in all they have said and done, it appears that they are gaining ground although a great deal has yet to be done.

Their task will not be made any easier by a powerful phalanx of interested parties, both local and international, who have unscrupulously abused their positions and connections to cream off billions of shillings of public monies.

Traditionally, however, Kenyans have eschewed spectacular debate over financial misdemeanours. Some of the most dramatic shifts of power have been carried out with hardly a ripple showing on the surface.

What has been more damaging to the Kenyan economy has been the unrelenting barrage of criticism from the foreign press, over virtually...

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