NAIROBI– Kenya requires 8.7 trillion shillings (about 86.67 billion US dollars) in order to develop various sectors which will enable the country to achieve 25 per cent annual growth in exports by the year 2022 when total exports can be expected to surpass imports to yield a trade surplus of 77 billion shillings.

According to information garnered at the Kenya Export Week exhibition and conference taking place here this week, this will be done through aggressive expansion of export markets and diversification of the product base which have hindered growth so far.

The targeted sectors to catalyze exports include manufacturing, agriculture, handicraft, mining and petroleum as well as trade services. Between 2016 and 2017, Kenya’s exports grew by a paltry 3.0 per cent to 594 billion shillings while imports surged 20 per cent to 1.7 trillion shillings, leading to a trade deficit of 1.13 trillin shillings.

This is blamed on the small number of export destinations consisting of only 13 countries which accounted for 70 per cent of Kenya’s total exports.

Horticultural produce, tea, clothing and apparel, coffee and tobacco made up 56 per cent of all exports. For a country seeking to increase output in the manufacturing sector to 15 per cent in five years, product diversification is a must, policy-makers say.

Sectors which can help Kenya grow exports by 25 per cent over the next five years to 1.8 trillion shillings are manufacturing, agriculture, handicraft, mining and petroleum as well as trade services, against 1.7 trillion shillings in imports.

Financing, however, remains a challenge and the government is urged to set up and Export-Import Bank with up to 500 Billion shillings in capital to finance export development while banks should increase lending to 1.8 trillion shillings.