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Kenya needs to bank on exhibitions, trade fairs to increase exports

By Nanjinia Wamuswa | May 17th 2016
By Nanjinia Wamuswa | May 17th 2016

Trade fairs and exhibitions have the marketing impact to reverse the trade imbalance that has seen Kenya import more than it exports.

Solomon Kinyanjui, the executive chairman of Exhibition Events Organisers, said this during the unveiling of the 10th African International Export and Import Fair at the company’s conference hall at the agricultural show ground in Jamhuri Park, Nairobi.

Dr Solomon Kinyanjui, Executive Chairman of the Exhibition Events Organisers Ltd shows exhibition stalls during the launch of 10th African International export and import fair at the company’s conference hall located in Nairobi Agricultural Show Ground, Jamhuri Park. (PHOTO: NANJINIA WAMUSWA/ STANDARD)

The launch was a precursor of an event to be held later this year at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), on September 21-23.

“Kenya has not utilised its potential to woo more foreign investors and grow its export capacity. It is time the country made use of exhibitions and events to attract foreign investors,” Dr Kinyanjui said.

He added that while devolution has many benefits, foreign direct investment in counties remains low because these regions lack regulations and structures that would attract investors. Instead, foreign investors find increased costs of doing business due to heavy taxation.

“The inception of county governments was a great idea to market Kenya from all fronts to the larger global market. The county governments should, therefore, create attractive environments for business,” he said.

Charles Mbuthia, an assistant manager at the Kenya National Farmers Federation (KENAFF), added that expos and trade fairs would encourage foreign investments, increase business co-ordination, improve knowledge transfer between businesses, promote agribusiness, enhance innovation, and improve the country’s image abroad.

“Kenya is known world over as the logistics hub for East Africa, and a significant player in regional trade, investment and infrastructure development. Unfortunately, the country has yet to reach its full potential as trade imports remain higher than exports,” Mr Mbuthia said.

The September expo is also expected to showcase transformations in the agriculture sector making it less dependent on manual processes, a change hoped to boost export volumes.

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