Local manufacturers list top priorities in report on impact of COVID to the sector

Manufacturers’ top priorities are improving cashflow, increasing market share and reducing costs, one year after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the country. 

These are the findings of survey conducted by Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and KPMG titledImpact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Manufacturing Sector: One Year On.”

Representing the Principal Secretary, for Industrialization, Amb. Peter Kaberia, Mr Julius Kirima, Director for Industries at the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, noted that the Government recognizes COVID-19 is still affecting the local manufacturing sector. 

“We remain cognizant of the continued impact of the pandemic, one year down the line. Therefore, we are working to ensure that we build back our economy. As businesses record reduced sales, government is also facing reduced revenues, putting pressure to slow down or even halt development projects. This calls for the development of innovative ways to bring our economy back on track. I laud KAM for their commitment to working with Government, to achieve our shared vision for an industrialized Kenya,” noted Mr Kirima. 

Speaking during the launch, KAM Chairman, Mucai Kunyiha noted that manufacturers continue to operate in a constrained business environment, further exacerbated by the rolling back of measures that were put in place to cushion the economy from shocks arising out of the virus. 

“From the survey, 18% of surveyed firms experienced a reduced sales turnover of more than 30%attributed to a fall in demand for products by consumers. The Food and Beverage, Automotive and Textile and Apparel Sectors experienced the most reduction in their turnover, at 15%, 12% and 12% respectively. 27% of surveyed firms operated below 50% production capacity, in comparison to 55% of the surveyed firms in 2020. The Automotive, and Plastic and Rubber Sectors were the most affected Other challenges facing the manufacturing sector, one year on, are the weakening Kenyan shilling which drives up the cost of importation, increased cost of doing business because of logistics and the high cost of raw materials and intermediate products, said Mr Kunyiha. 

Mr Kunyiha urged the government to institute measures to bolster economic recovery and drive the resilience and sustainability of the local manufacturing sector, saying, “The health of our economy, follows that of the population. As such, our focus as a country should be to contain the pandemic, by continuously strengthening our health systems. Additionally, government needs to avoid any policy interventions that increase the cost of doing business, develop domestic value chains and address demand and liquidity challenges.”  

KPMG East Africa Partner, Smita Sanghrajka, highlighted manufacturers’ shifting focus. 

Last year, the top three priorities for manufacturers were to increase profitability, increase revenue and increase domestic market share last year. One year down the line, improving cashflow remains a top priority for 67% of manufacturers, 65% look to increase their market share and reducing costs for 65%,” explained Ms Sanghrajka. 

The report follows the 2020 survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on thManufacturing Sector, developed by KAM and KPMG. This year’s study shall guide KAM’s engagement with government, to develop policy measures geared towards driving the resilience and sustainability of the local manufacturing sector. 

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