Kenya’s exports have posted significant growth amid the pandemic even as the country imported less.
Latest government records show a six per cent increase in exports between January and September this year to Sh480 billion, up from Sh450 billion reported over the same period in 2019.
Imports, on the other hand, dropped by 9.6 per cent in the same period, leading to narrowing of the country’s balance of trade deficit by 18 per cent.
Speaking during the commemoration of Africa Industrialisation Day yesterday, Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina attributed the increased sales to the resilience of the country’s entrepreneurs.
“The response of Kenyan manufacturers to fill the gap remains a marvel and one which deserves a standing ovation. Not only did they fill the void, but managed to drastically bring down the costs of essential supplies,” she said.
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The increase in exports comes at a time when the government has increased efforts to rally Kenyans to buy locally-made products.
The call has particularly got clearer during the pandemic where manufacturers have been forced to look within to find solutions to tackle the virus.
To bolster small and medium enterprises, the government yesterday launched the second component of the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP 250+) micro-website and the Smart Me platform, an online application tool that will identify and select small medium enterprises (SMEs) for the project.
The SMEs will be selected for the six cohorts to be undertaken during the remaining four years of the KIEP project, whose aim is to increase innovation and productivity in select private firms by creating linkages between startups, traditional industries and international networks.
“This programme seeks to address lack of self-awareness by most enterprises needed to improve the capital and or incentives to upgrade their managerial and technical skills, machinery and equipment,” said Ms Maina.
KIEP 250+ Team Leader Maarten Susan said Kenya does not have enough SMEs that can compete internationally with large corporations, and noted that the project will link inspiring SMEs to the world academia, researchers and financial institutions.
“We will help SMEs foster innovation, promote market linkages and link them to the best specialists so they can make Kenya proud,” he said.