The government today launched the Component Two of the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP 250+) micro website and the SMARTME platform, an online application tool that will identify and select Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The SMEs will be selected for the six cohorts to be undertaken during the remaining four years of the KIEP project, whose aim is to increase innovation and productivity in select private firms by creating linkages between startups, traditional industries and international networks.
Speaking at the launch at a Nairobi hotel where the industrialists and innovators had gathered to celebrate the Africa Industrialization Day, the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Betty Maina said KIEP will target over 250 SMEs where large corporations or organizations will nominate potential SMEs suppliers in its supply chain.
She said those selected will partake in the upgrading program funded through a performance contract where they will be incorporated into the performance contracts and grants disbursed upon attainment of the respective deliverables.
“This program is crucial as it will empower the SMEs with managerial and technical skills that will enable them improve their capital and upgrade their machinery and equipment for more productivity,” she said.
Maina encouraged SMEs to take advantage of the facility and log into the website portal KIEP250+go.ke for more information.
The CS at the same time announced that the government is negotiating with the United States for a Free Trade Agreement to open the way for more trade and investment opportunities.
“We want Kenyan goods to have access into the vast American market duty free and quota free at the expiry of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2025,” she said.
The CS also stated the government is also negotiating with the United Kingdom government for an Economic Partnership Agreement to have more market for export for the local industries and SMEs.
She also urged Kenyans to promote locally made goods and services in support of domestic industry, noting the support will enable the industries create employment and reduce poverty.
Maina said the latest reports indicate that the country total exports increased by Sh30 billion, thereby recording Sh480 billion for the period between January and September this year, up from 450 billion over the same period in 2019.
She said the total imports decreased by Sh 128 billion to register Sh1,199 billion in January to September 2020, down from Sh1,327 billion as compared to the same period in 2019.
“This is an indication that the balance trade deficit improved by Sh160 billion to record Sh718 billion in trade in January to September this year down from Sh878billion over the same period in 2019,” she added.
The CS also commended Kenyan manufacturers for producing medical supplies for Covid-19 which she said had reduced the cost of the personal protective equipments, hygiene products, ventilators, temperature thermo guns and face masks, sanitizers, washing stations and high dependence unit beds among others.
Speaking at the celebrations, the KIEP 250+ Team Leader, Mr. Maarten Susan said currently Kenya does not have enough SMEs that can compete internationally with large corporations, and noted that the project will link inspiring SMEs to the world academia, researchers and financial institutions.
“We will help SMEs foster innovation, promote market linkages for them and link them the best specialists so that they can make Kenya proud,” said Maarten.
In her remarks, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Industrial Development Officer Bucyana Kawira said Africa has the potential to compete in the global market and encouraged Kenyans to fully exploit the available trade opportunities.
She also encouraged Kenyans to support the local industries and buy their products in order to boost the local manufacturers and SMEs.
“We are also appealing to development partners to support the activities of the local manufacturers for industrial development,” she added.
Present at the Africa Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Day celebrations themed ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization in Africa Continental-Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Covid-19 Era’ was the ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization in Africa Continental-Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
Source: Kenya News Agency