Manufacturers have today called on Government to prioritize export-led industrialization for sustained economic growth.
This was during the rollout of the annual Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Manufacturing Priority Agenda (MPA), themed, “Manufacturing sector recovery and sustained growth for Kenya’s shared prosperity.”
Speaking during the launch, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Ms Betty Maina noted that Government continues to engage the business community to improve competitiveness.
“Following engagements with businesses over the years, we have made tremendous strides in enhancing our trade and industrialization capacity as a nation. One of the key initiatives has been preferential procurement for locally manufactured goods by Government to increase consumption of Kenyan goods and services. Furthermore, we have increased our focus on standards development to enable Kenya to take advantage of emerging market opportunities presented by various trade agreements.”
Principal Secretary, Ministry of East African Community and Regional Integration Dr Kevit Desai highlighted the need for collaboration, to transform the economy, “It is essential for all relevant stakeholders to work jointly to transform and propel growth within the various sectors of the economy. The Government shall remain focused on creating policies and legislations that support the sustained growth of the manufacturing sector.”
IMF Representative, Mr Tobias Rasmussen noted that whilst Kenya has made significant strides to improve the trade environment, the country’s volume of exports remains low.
“Kenya’s export performance has been relatively stagnant, particularly for manufactured goods, even before the pandemic. Kenyan products have not been able to compete favourably in the regional and global markets. Reversing this trend calls for export dynamism by Kenyan manufacturers. This entails enhancing the adoption of technologies to enhance the quality of Kenyan products, increasing value addition and product sophistication.”
KAM Chairman, Mr Mucai Kunyiha noted that competitiveness is the only foundation on which we can build a sustainable manufacturing industry that delivers value to consumers.
“To build a strong manufacturing sector, we need to focus on export markets, which requires us to be competitive. Competitiveness enhances a nation’s capacity to create productive jobs, decent wages and consequently, a dependable social support system for its population. We urge the government to address the bottlenecks highlighted in the MPA. These include the high cost of production; policy instability and unpredictability; the arduous tax regime; transport and logistics; illicit trade, regulatory overreach, and market access, among others.”
Mr Mucai Kunyiha also observed that elections hinder businesses from increasing investments, saying, “Every 5 years, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) takes a dip because of elections. We urge the government to put in place measures to ensure peaceful elections and transition. This will ensure that we keep our economy moving, and economically empower citizens. Furthermore, it is essential that political aspirants, both at the national and county levels, centre manufacturing in their development manifestos.”
The MPA is an annual publication that guides the Association’s advocacy efforts with Government and its agencies. This year’s MPA is guided by 5 pillars to support the recovery of the manufacturing sector from the devastating effect of COVID-19. The pillars include: