The Industrialisation and Enterprise Development ministry’s plans to set up a textile city and an industrial park got a boost last week following reports that firms from China, Turkey and Brazil are set to roll out investments in the cotton industry.
The firms will be investing along the entire value chain including research, training, growing and manufacturing apparels for the export market.
This was underlined by the Kenya Chinese Chamber of Commerce vice-chairman William Zuo’s revelation that talks were underway between members and local farmers, ginneries, spinners and the national government.
Mr Zhuo disclosed further that his members are familiarising themselves with the industry value chain and building partnerships with other players such as learning institutions.
One of the Turkish firms, HoneyDeco, on the other hand, is reportedly planning to build factories and has already introduced high-yielding cotton seed varieties to farmers in Hola and Bura irrigation schemes. HoneyDeco’s ambitions are underlined by its plans to sign contracts with farmers on 12,000 acres, up from the current 3,000 acres.
The Brazilians have also identified sites where they will multiply high-yielding seeds in Kisumu and Homa Bay counties. The Brazilians will also offer training opportunities and set up classification laboratories.
These, and other initiatives by Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed, raise hopes that the Government is finally getting its act together to benefit from the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). Days when apparel manufacturers imported the bulk of their raw materials may finally be coming to a close.
But for the country to see the dawn of a new day, the Government must continue to not only attract foreign investors but also take steps to facilitate local investors to be involved in the entire value chain of the industry.
For starters, foreign firms could be persuaded to include local investors who would buy shares and be involved in the running of the enterprises. This would help the country to build internal capacity.