Embracing Technological Innovation for Industrial Growth
In a strategic move to harness the vast opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) is advocating for a robust embrace of technology. Recognizing the pivotal role of technology in driving industrial growth, KAM underscores the need for Kenya to fortify its position in the continent's market by leveraging technological advancements.
Catalyst for Growth and Market Dominance
The AfCFTA, with a colossal single market boasting a population of over 1.2 billion and a combined GDP of approximately $2.5 trillion, positions itself as a game-changer for Kenya's industrial landscape. Statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics affirm Africa's dominance as the primary destination for the country's exports, constituting 41% of total export earnings in 2022.
A Testament to African Market Significance
Total exports to Africa recorded a remarkable 15.7% increase, reaching Sh357.7 billion in the same period. The upsurge is largely attributed to a 17.7% surge in exports to the East African Community (EAC) economic bloc, accounting for 63.3% of total exports to Africa.
KAM CEO's Vision
During the inaugural Kenya Industrialisation Conference in Nairobi, KAM CEO Anthony Mwangi emphasized the pivotal role of technology and skills in propelling industrial development. In a panel discussion, Mwangi stated, "Technological advancements serve as a key driver of industrial development and economic growth."
A Call for Synergy
Mwangi urged for collaborative efforts in research between the government, academia, and the industry. Such collaborations are deemed critical for aligning research activities with real-world industry challenges, fostering innovation, and delivering practical solutions. Research and development stand out as essential components for companies striving to innovate, introduce new products, and enhance existing offerings. By staying ahead through innovation, businesses can address emerging market needs and maintain a competitive edge.
Building Essential Skills for the Future
Joyce Njogu, KAM Head of Consulting and Business Development, stressed the importance of imparting "essential skills" to the youth and enabling continuous skills upgrading within the manufacturing sector. The focus is on creating sustainable jobs and ensuring that the younger generation is adept in the latest technologies.
Rebecca Miano, the Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade, and Industry, expressed the government's vision of placing Kenya at the forefront of industrial output within the AfCFTA. Once a robust national manufacturing culture is established, the country aims to achieve substantial industrial growth and value addition to locally manufactured goods.
Kenya's Strategic Position
As one of the six countries selected for the pilot phase of the AfCFTA initiative on Guided Trade, Kenya stands poised to navigate the evolving trade landscape. The government's ambition is to elevate the manufacturing sector's contribution to the GDP from 7.3% (pre-pandemic average) to 15% by 2025 and 20% by 2030.
A Holistic Approach
While the Buy Kenya-Build Kenya initiative focuses on the domestic market, Kenya is concurrently striving to increase exports to the continent under AfCFTA. The objective is to curtail the trade deficit, reduce forex spending, and position Kenya as a leading exporter.
Kenya's Tech-Powered Industrial Renaissance
As Kenya charts its course in the competitive landscape of AfCFTA, the synergy of technology, research, and skills development emerges as the cornerstone of its industrial renaissance. The strategic amalgamation of these elements is set to propel Kenya's industries to new heights, fostering innovation, sustainability, and competitiveness in the global arena.