Engagement to Change Public-Private Policy: Consumer's Choice Limited
Mohammed Uhuru Kadhi, director of strategy and business development of Consumer's Choice Limited (CCL), was contemplating the changes expected to be caused by the new Excise Duty Act (2015), which was awaiting the assent of Kenya's president. The new act would remove the excise duty on denatured alcohol used in the manufacture of cooking gel. CCL and other stakeholder organizations had been pushing for the duty's abolition for about three years. On that journey, they had learned several lessons that were worthwhile to other institutions and individuals involved in policy and regulatory changes aimed at improving the business environment in east Africa.Given the current high excise duty in Kenya, CCL used to transport denatured alcohol from western Kenya to a factory that manufactured the cooking gel in Moshi, Tanzania, a 600 kilometer journey. The factory subsequently exported most of the cooking gel back to Kenya for sale. The factory also had its own branded cooking stoves, sold in both Tanzania and Kenya. Recently, CCL had designed its own cooking-gel stoves and had them manufactured in China. The stoves could use the cooking gel from several suppliers, including that from the factory in Tanzania.In 2013, CCL and a group of other stakeholder organizations promoting the use of cooking gel and stoves started engaging with the Kenyan government to remove the exercise duty on denatured alcohol. Most of the discussions with the government highlighted the positive environmental benefits of using cooking gel instead of kerosene, wood, charcoal, etc. The removal of excise duty would also be create a business opportunity since it would make it profitable to manufacture the cooking gel in Kenya.Now, in December 2015, with the Excise Duty Bill in its final stages toward approval, Kadhi could not only reflect back on the almost-two-year journey but also contemplate on the future business opportunities. However, all this depended on whether the Kenyan parliament would agree to make the changes to the bill that had been requested by President Uhuru Kenyatta.