July 13, 2012, NAIROBI: Manufacturers have welcomed the gains made in the last 10 years at a meeting held today in Nairobi to take stock of achievements during the Kibaki era, former KAM chairman Mr Jaswinder Bedi has said.
“The last ten years have seen remarkable growth in turnover for the country. A three fold growth in our turnover as a country from Ksh 1 trillion to Ksh 3.2 trillion, the improvement in the welfare of our people through improved earnings in all sectors – today we are healthier, more educated and wealthier as a nation than we were 10 years ago,” said Mr Bedi.
Mr Bedi also added that the export markets have also diversified from a reliance on European markets to markets in Africa. “Currently we export three times more than we did 10 years ago – mostly manufactured goods and services – to new markets rather than unprocessed products we traditionally sold. I have personally led external trade missions with our members to West Africa in 2010 and Southern Africa last year as part of our plan to increase inter-regional trade. This year we will be going to Angola in pursuit of new markets, added Mr Bedi.
Kenya has also ventured into services and set the trend for the rest of the world to follow with mobile money transfer through MPesa and other products in the ICT sector.
“Kenya is now dubbed the Silicon Savanna because of the bold innovations of Kenyan technology entrepreneurs who revolutionized service delivery during the last 10 years, aadded Mr Bedi.
Mr Bedi also added that that it is imperative that Kenya maintains its position in the region and beyond which is currently threatened by costs of doing business in Kenya especially in respect to high interest rates and high energy costs.
“The manufacturing sector contribution to GDP currently stands at 11% down from 14% few years ago, which means the manufacturing sector has not grown at the same pace as the rest of the economy,” added Mr Bedi.
Manufacturers are of the view that to attain vision 2030 goals there is need to grow the economy in double digits for the next 18 years. “There is also need to address the inefficiencies in the logistics system especially with the port of Mombasa where the ‘through-put’ is disappointing as compared to similar ports in Asia for example Singapore,” added Mr Bedi.
Mr Bedi also reiterated the need to safeguard local manufacturers by banning the sale of second hand clothes. The continued sale of Mitumba on the local market could potentially cripple the local textile manufacturing industry. “Manufacturers argue that since the sole purpose of Mitumba is to help the poor and underprivileged in the society they do not understand why Mitumba is a trade when it should be free distribution to that marginalized society,” said Mr Bedi.
KAM represents 700 members in the manufacturing industry and the manufacturers arguably contribute about a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. Over a million people are employed in the sector and millions others are supported in downstream activities.
The manufacturing sector is the country’s back borne and if this sector is not well supported the country stands to lose a lot of revenue and millions of jobs may also be at stake.
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