The Government is determined to support small-scale industries and manufacturing sector through creation of an enabling environment for budding industries towards the realization of Kenya’s big four agenda.
The Cabinet Administrative Secretary for trade David Osiany commended the Kenya Association of Manufacturers in the strides made to ensure inclusivity and participation of players in the manufacturing sector by convening the first Women in Manufacturing Conference in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County
Speaking at the opening session of the conference he reiterated the government’s commitment to scale up local manufacturing through innovations and strategic interventions to promote local productions.
He urged local manufacturers to utilize efforts the ministry was making to create an enabling environment by accessing and taking advantage of the special economic zones set aside for manufacturing
“The ministry has created special economic zones for manufacturing in our region because they have advantages as they operate under different tax regimes away from the other business,” said Osiany.
He also called upon counties to set aside parcels of land to accommodate industrial parks, which would be a deliberate attempt towards encouraging local manufacturing at grassroot level.
Some of the challenges cited in manufacturing have been high cost of power supply and inadequate access to financing for manufacturing.
On her part, the CEO of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Ms. Phyllis Wakaiga emphasized on the importance of manufacturing and inclusion of women in the sector, which is the only way to grow the economy in the country.
“In the conference we have different women showcasing products that they manufacture, and have had conversations with them on the challenges they have faced in the sector,” Ms Wakaiga said,
The conference also saw the launching of the first ever Women in Manufacturing study report, which was formalized in 2020, and sheds light on the challenges and gaps in women participation in manufacturing in Kenya.
She added that the conference intends to build the skills of women in terms of accessing finances.
“We also intend to have conversations around building products for women in manufacturing, and see how TVETs can enhance the transition of women into manufacturing” she added.
She thanked the Ministry of Trade for enabling manufacturers thrive in the country and supporting businesses locally, and thanked the County Government of Uasin Gishu for hosting the conference and being the first Women in Business county.
The Women in Manufacturing (WIM) Programme was established in 2017 by KAM with an aim to see a rise in the involvement of women within the manufacturing sector in Kenya.
Women over the past years have been disadvantaged in terms of economic empowerment and access to opportunities, and the WIM conference sets to change the narrative and encourage women to venture into manufacturing and production of goods and services in the country
The WIM program provides an opportunity for mentorship, skills-building, networking, marketing and market development support.
According to the report by KAM, women make up only 22 percent of the manufacturing labour force as compared to a 55 percent of the global workforce.
This shows that less women have ventured into manufacturing as compared to forming part of the workforce.
The report however reveals that there has been an increase in the engagement of women in manufacturing over the past 10 years, which is a streak of hope towards the inclusion of women in manufacturing fully.
Speaking at the event, the Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno urged the government to turn to more sustainable energy sources other than geothermal power, as the high costs of electricity increases production costs, in turn making finished products to be more expensive as compared to the East African region.
“We want the government to see how to cut costs with Kenya Power, as when you want to be connected to power, you are told to buy the transformer, which is expensive,” said Chemno, “If we cut on production costs especially on power, we will attract more people, be more competitive and create more jobs in the country.”
He also welcomed those who would like to venture into manufacturing to Uasin Gishu County, citing a good business environment and a gateway to various regions.