The decision to have the 10th Ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Nairobi was good news for Kenya and Africa. According to Phyllis Wakiaga, CEO of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Kenya was privileged to host the WTO Ministerial Conference as the first country in Africa to hold the event.
This was the first time the event was being held in Africa. For the first time also, the event was chaired by a lady, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed. KAM CEO says this is one indication that Kenya is indeed an an economic hub both in East Africa and in Africa.
The WTO Conference came just months after another Global Entrepreneurial Summit that was attended by President Barack Obama of the United States. In an interview with Soko Directory, KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga said that the WTO Conference and the visit of the America President played a major role in boosting Kenya’s economy especially in key sectors such as Tourism, something that saw Kenya being voted as the best tourist destination at the World Tourism Awards.
On the issue of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the CEO of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers stressed its importance to the manufacturing sector in the country. She said that negotiations of the EPA agreement are at their final stages and will soon be implemented with the textile industry benefiting from it. She said that EPA is important because 22 percent of Kenya’s exports are to the European Union and, therefore, the country benefits a lot from the agreement.
While acknowledging competition in business is the way to economic growth, the CEO acknowledged that there has been unfair trade practices especially in cases of dumping by the Chinese traders in such items as steel. She said that such cases of dumping have been brought about by some economic policies such as subsidies which have in turn affected the local industries. To correct the issues of dumping, she suggests the formulation of policies that would shield the local industries with such organs as the Kenya Revenue Authority helping in the uplifting of the sector.
When asked about the manufacturing state in the country, the KAM CEO said that manufacturing has stagnated over a period in the country at about 10 to 11 percent. She pointed out that Kenya’s Vision 2030 projected the growth of the economy by 10 percent but that is yet to be realized and the country is still way below Vision 2030 prospects in terms of economic growth.
“Manufacturing, creates employment for many people and it directly and indirectly affects people as well as other key sectors such as agriculture. She added that when manufacturing goes down, all other key sectors such as agriculture too go down.” -KAM CEO, Phyllis Wakiaga.
The East African Market has not been that good in terms of trading. This is because, despite the fact that there is a notion of free trade between member states, there are still trade barriers and tariffs that have greatly affected trade. Infrastructure in East Africa, and in Kenya in particular is wanting and this has always increased the cost of doing business coupled with high energy costs.
Her parting shot? Kenya’s Manufacturing sector is key to the growth of the economy and Kenya as a country has to invest in it.
Article by Juma Fred.