President William Ruto on Thursday, announced the government’s preparedness to privatize 35 state-owned companies, citing their entanglement in government bureaucracy as a hindrance to productivity.

This move comes in the wake of recent legislative changes, with the government having signed a revised privatization bill into law last month, facilitating a smoother process for selling state enterprises to private entities.

At the time of signing, President Ruto emphasized that the revised law aims to increase the private sector’s involvement in the economy.

“We have identified the first 35 companies that we are going to offer to the private sector,” Ruto told a gathering of African stock market officials in Nairobi.

He also stated that the government is exploring options for around 100 state-owned firms. He noted that numerous potentially lucrative enterprises are trapped in government bureaucracy, and their services could be more efficiently provided by the private sector.

We will make this opportunity available.”

The East Africa economic powerhouse is grappling with a myriad of challenges, including depleted government coffers, soaring inflation, and a plummeting currency that has led to a significant increase in its debt repayment costs.

This month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced its approval of a $938-million loan for Kenya, which is further compounded by a looming $2-billion euro bond repayment due next year.

In addition to the financial assistance, the IMF has advised the government to undertake reforms in public sector entities, with a particular focus on key entities such as the national electricity supplier, Kenya Power, and the national carrier, Kenya Airways, both of which recorded substantial losses in 2022.

On Monday, the World Bank announced its intention to offer $12 billion in support to the country over the next three years.

As of the end of June, Kenya’s debt had surpassed Sh10.1 trillion ($66 billion), as per Treasury figures, amounting to approximately two-thirds of the gross domestic product.