State eyes new investors to boost manufacturing sector

Industry PS Juma Mukhwana (second right) during a media briefing on the International Textile Machinery Exhibition (ITME) Africa and Middle East 2023. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

Kenya is encouraging partners to set up more factories and warehouses instead of exhibitions in the country since it has already established a favourable environment for foreign investors through supportive policies.

Speaking during a media briefing on the International Textile Machinery Exhibition (ITME) Africa and Middle East 2023, scheduled to start tomorrow, Industry Principal Secretary Juma Mukhwana said the partnerships should be in line with Kenya’s vision of reducing and eliminating the importation of textile-related products.

“It is time that our Indian partners consider setting up factories and warehouses in Kenya as opposed to having more and more of these exhibitions,” he said. “The government has already established a favourable environment for foreign investors to establish factories and warehouses in the country through supportive policies. It is duty-free to set up these factories and warehouses, and the government is open to investments.”

The ITME event, which will take place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi, will be the second in Africa, after the inaugural exhibition that took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2019.

The event will bring together participants from over 23 countries.

It aims to showcase the latest advancements in textile machinery and technology, promote business networking, and encourage industry collaborations.

While welcoming the exhibitors, Dr Mukhwana encouraged potential investors to view Africa’s challenges and problems as opportunities for investment that can yield substantial returns for all parties involved.

“Africa is the next frontier for manufacturing and this exhibition comes at an opportune time where more can be done. You are here at the right time,” he said.

Also speaking at the same event, Ketan Sanghvi, the Chair of the India ITME Society said the exhibition which takes place every four years will serve as a catalyst for the modernisation of the African textile industry.

 ITME exhibition, he noted, will also provide an opportunity to discover Kenya’s potential as a new business destination, in addition to the other participating countries.

“The exhibition will initiate a conducive business environment, promote trade agreements, and provide the necessary support to encourage textile industry growth,” Ketan says.

He explained that the exhibition will encompass various formats, including seminars, panel discussions, technology presentations, and investment seminars.

 “This shall enable an inclusive and strong foundation for future prospects with Information, skill development, training, trade, and investment all in a conclusive and formal development path,” he noted.

Kenya aims to utilise the exhibition as a means to enhance and solidify its status as a trailblazer in the modernisation of its textile industry.

The country’s focus will be on various areas, including advancements in cotton seed and cotton farming technology, engineering machinery, home textile products, related goods and services for the textile industry, as well as technical information services and educational research institutes.

Dr Mukhwana revealed that Kenya is hoping for an extension of the African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) deal as it seeks to push for more exports of textile and apparel to the US market.

Beneficiaries of Agoa

Kenya, he explained, together with other benefitting countries is lobbying to have the deal that expires in 2025 extended by 10 more years. Kenya is among 36 countries that are beneficiaries of Agoa, which provides duty-free access to the US market for more than 1,800 products.

This is in addition to over 5,000 products that are eligible for duty-free access under the generalised system of preferences programme.

“My colleague is in the US to continue with the discussions on the deal extension. We have participated in the US market under the Agoa for a long time. The opportunity has led to the continued growth of the textile and apparel industry among other sub-sectors. Talks are at an advanced stage and there is a positive indication of us being granted the 10-year extension,” Mukhwana explained.