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'Poor quality' tag hurting Kenyan brands

By Graham Kajilwa | Jan 21st 2022 | 3 min read
By Graham Kajilwa | January 21st 2022


Industrialisation Chief Administrative Secretary David Osiany (right) tries out a perfume with Tony Airo, director of Tony Airo’s Products, during the Made in Kenya Extravaganza Exhibition at KICC Nairobi yesterday. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The perception that imported products are of better quality than what is locally produced has hindered the growth of Kenyan brands.

At the opening of a three-day exhibition that started in Nairobi Thursday, participants said the negative view is hurting some of Kenya's products that are superior to imports.

The exhibition, dubbed Made in Kenya Extravaganza (MIKE) brings together manufacturing firms to showcase their products and to network.

Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Chief Administrative Secretary David Osiany cited a local company that manufactures charging cables for all types of phones under the brand TOTOSCI.

“When you see the chargers that are better quality than what we import from other countries, then you will be glad when I say Made in Kenya is the future for us,” said the CAS, who officiated the opening of the exhibition.

Mr Osiany said the country imports a lot of what can be made locally.

"We have the capacity for it, the policy to enable it, vibrant private sector support, an equally supportive government to work with you and we wish that many people can join in this journey,” he said.

Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (Keproba) Head of Corporate Communications Caroline Kwamboka said one of the things they have observed after incubating the Made in Kenya initiative for about two years is that there is still concern about the quality of products.

Keproba is a government agency that helps manufacturers package their products to international standards with the Made in Kenya mark.

Ms Kwamboka said Kenyan products are viewed as inferior compared to products that are imported.

“I think many of us are regular consumers of Chinese imports. In some cases we have considered that local products are much better," she said.

"If you look at the plastics, sometimes we think that the ones we import are better but when you look at our local producers we have better quality.”

She said the initiative targets local manufacturers that export products and consumers.

“Our aim was to ensure we boost the local manufacturing sector who are exporting out of the country,” she said. “As we speak we have over 600 products with the Made in Kenya mark.”

Kwamboka said the objective is also to ensure consumers - locally and abroad - are able to identify a product as Kenyan and associate it with quality.

She said this would reduce shopping for 'mitumba', which have been glorified to be of superior quality yet they are second-hand clothes and some may cost more than what is manufactured locally.

“That’s one of the obstacles that Kenyan products are facing. For some of our products, no matter how good they will be, there is a perception that they are not good enough. They do not match imported materials,” the official said.

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