KNA The Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the county government of Taita Taveta to set up an EPZ at Ndii in Taita Taveta County.
The Zone, will be set on a 250-acre piece of land while other satellite industrial parks are expected to be set up in Voi, Mwatate, Wundanyi and Taveta.
Speaking Wednesday during the signing of the MoU at EPZA head office in Athi River, EPZA Board Chairman Mr. Paul Gicheru noted that setting up the zone is part of the President’s Big Four agenda aimed at boosting the manufacturing sector.
“The journey towards establishing an Export Processing Zone in Taita Taveta county has been long overdue but it is extremely gratifying to note that both parties have achieved very great strides in ensuring that the presidential directive of March 2017 is fully realized,” Gicheru said.
“Under the manufacturing pillar of the Big Four Agenda, the Government identified the key drivers as textiles and apparel; leather and leather products; agro processing and SME development. All these are categorized as eligible export-oriented investments under the EPZ program and are suited to be housed in the proposed Voi EPZ,” Gicheru added.
The Board Chair noted that Taita Taveta’s commitment to establishing an EPZ is one that is expected to significantly transform the economic development of the County.
He reiterated that the EPZ program remains a tool for attracting foreign direct investments, job creation, industrial development and growth of the surrounding environs within the respective geographical locations of the zones once the necessary legal and regulatory framework, infrastructure development such as power, water, sewerage, and telecommunications are put in place.
Gicheru noted that Taita Taveta County is well endowed with natural resources thereby making it suitable for setting up resource-based export-oriented investments mainly in agro processing.
“It cannot go unmentioned that Taita Taveta remains a major disease free – livestock rearing zone and is rich in abundant minerals. It is home to more than 40 high value gemstones. Again, all these activities are eligible under the EPZ program,” Gicheru noted.
He exuded confidence that the proposed Voi EPZ will be able to attract a wide array of investors owing to its geographical location along the Nairobi – Mombasa highway, parallel to the Standard Gauge Railway and proximity to the Mombasa and Lamu Ports.
Gicheru further reiterated that as part of EPZA’s 2019 – 2023 Strategic Plan, the EPZ program is expected to play a critical role in the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 15 percent by 2022 from the current figure of 10 per cent in addition to the creation of one million job opportunities and a fivefold increase in foreign direct investment.
“It is for this reason and in line with the manufacturing pillar of the Big Four Agenda that EPZ Authority has identified and is already working with County Governments that are keen on taking advantage of the investment opportunities presented by the EPZ program. Counties need to allocate land for industrial purposes especially for potential investors who would like to set up export-oriented projects close to their source of raw materials,” added Gicheru.
Taita Taveta Governor, Granton Samboja, thanked the authority for the initiative pointing out that the benefits the county will reap from the project are enormous, as it will open many opportunities both locally, regionally and internationally.
“EPZ will provide utilization at point of production for the finished products like clothes for the expanding population especially in Voi town and other urban areas in the country while the Mombasa port will offer an avenue for export of finished products to international markets.
“Additionally, the EPZ will spur development due to employment creation which will have a ripple effect on development of housing , increase demand for food products and general growth of trade,” added Samboja.
He pointed out that the Taita Taveta county government will look to revive the cotton value chain, which will be a major provider of raw materials for the textiles and apparel industry in the EPZ.
“The county is also promoting several value chains in the agriculture sector such as macadamia, small stock (goats) and cattle which will provide raw materials for agro processing, ” said Samboja.
“Furthermore the county will enhance regional trade with neighboring countries especially Tanzania which has the potential to be a source of low cost materials as well as a major market for the finished industrial goods,” Governor Samboja said.
He further noted that the zone will seek to revive the cotton industry, macadamia-processing adding that cattle will also provide raw materials for agro processing where he pledged the county governments support in making the project a success.
“The 250 acres of land allocated may not be enough and if and when the need arises, the county government will allocate more land for expansion. It will also be an attractive zone for investors keen to reduce on some of the logistical operations that they may encounter such as reaching to the Port of Mombasa.
EPZA Acting CEO Mr. Henry Obino said the Authority is committed to the devolution agenda of the country and is devoted to establishing EPZs across the 47 counties.
“However, this will only be achieved through working with county governments setting aside land for this purpose,” said Obino.
The delegation also visited Nodor Kenya EPZ and Royal Garments industries. Nodor is the largest sisal manufacturing dartboard manufacturer in Africa, exporting to Europe. Darts games are popular indoor games in Europe. Royal Garments manufactures medical uniforms for the export market.