During a forum to discuss the investment and trade opportunities between Kenya and India, Industrialization Principal Secretary (PS), Betty Maina said that the focus is to increase leather, textile and apparel and the government feels it can collaborate with India to reduce the trade imbalance which is skewed in favour of India.
According to her, the leather sector in Kenya contributes 0.3 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the partnership with India will be looking at improving the sector’s output.
A delegation from Indian companies involved in the leather sector are in the country to look out for opportunities in the largely untapped sector.
Maina highlighted that Principal Secretaries (PSs) will soon be having a workshop focused at coming up with policies on the revitalization of manufacturing with leather and footwear being some of the priority areas.
“Most of the footwear coming into the country is second hand and the government is planning to slowly face out the importation of second hand footwear and cloths so that it can create market for local leather and textile industries,” said Maina.
The PS said that the government is also creating market for local leather industry by making sure that all footwear for the disciplined forces and the police is exclusively bought from local manufacturers.
Dr. Moses Ikiara, The KenInvest Managing Director said that the leather sector has a massive potential with available market in Kenya and the region since Kenya is a signatory of the Eastern Africa Community (EAC), Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Ikiara also highlighted, “For the last 10-15 years, the Kenyan economy has been growing at an average 5.6 percent which is quite strong as compared to the African average of less than three percent and as a country we are focusing on a double digit growth with leather targeted to contribute to this growth.”
The India Council of Leather exports Chairman, Aqeel Ahmed Panaruna said that this is the right time for India to invest in Kenya’s leather industry since if they don’t do it soon enough they might lose the market.
“We have a delegation of 14 new companies who have come to look out for investment opportunities here in Kenya and an additional three companies which were here last year,” explained Panaruma.
Panaruma further continued, “There are a lot of opportunities here and it is a gold mine, we know what exactly to invest in and I am sure some of the companies here today will invest in Kenya.”