How Made In Kenya Products Will Create One Million Decent Jobs in 2023

We are liv­ing in hard eco­nom­ic times. The Unit­ed Nations Con­fer­ence on Trade and Devel­op­ment (UNCTAD) projects that glob­al eco­nom­ic growth will drop to 2.2% this year. This will cost the world more than $17 tril­lion, which will con­tin­ue wip­ing away thou­sands of jobs every month.

Against this back­drop, Kenya must act speed­i­ly and inno­v­a­tive­ly. In this regard, local­iza­tion is the way for­ward. Indeed, local­iza­tion can cre­ate one mil­lion decent jobs in one year.

Last Novem­ber, Moses Kuria the Trade, Invest­ment and Indus­try Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary said in a TV inter­view that he would cre­ate five mil­lion jobs in the local tex­tile industry.

I agree entire­ly with the CS’s asser­tion because I am a first­hand wit­ness of what local­iza­tion can do. Last week, Hon­da Kenya pro­duced the first 103 motor­bikes with 14 local parts as required by Kenya’s Motor­cy­cle Assem­bly Reg­u­la­tions 2020. Oth­er assem­blers have also start­ed sim­i­lar pro­duc­tion. Pre­vi­ous­ly all assem­blers were required to pro­duce only sev­en parts. Just a few years ago, those 14 parts would have been import­ed, which would have siphoned jobs from Kenya while cre­at­ing them in the export­ing countries.

Once all deal­ers com­ply with the Motor­cy­cle reg­u­la­tions, at least 5,000 per­ma­nent jobs will be cre­at­ed with­in four months. A reg­u­lar boda boda bike has about 299 parts. This is there­fore a mon­u­men­tal start­ing point towards deploy­ing wide­spread local­iza­tion to cre­ate thou­sands of decent jobs.

These gains have been secured by the con­cert­ed and inten­tion­al pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion process through the Gov­ern­ment, indus­try play­ers and all stake­hold­ers in the motor­cy­cle sec­tor in a jour­ney that start­ed in 2014. Embar­rass­ing­ly few motor­cy­cle pro­duc­ers from Asia hid­ing behind local assem­blers have vowed not to embrace local­iza­tion under the guise that Kenya doesn’t have capac­i­ty to pro­duce parts local­ly. Ulti­mate­ly, they want to retain jobs in their coun­tries and there­fore using our law court sys­tem to delay the spir­it of our motor­cy­cle assem­bly reg­u­la­tions. This must be resist­ed with umph because capac­i­ty is nev­er there, it is cre­at­ed. Such is the strate­gic approach that will boost local­iza­tion in oth­er sec­tors of our economy.

Local­iza­tion can be explained in three words – made in Kenya. Since inde­pen­dence, Kenya has aspired to boost local man­u­fac­ture. We must now entrench local­iza­tion not just in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, but also in our nation­al psy­che and social fab­ric for sus­tain­able growth.

Every sin­gle prod­uct that we use can be local­ly man­u­fac­tured once we take both incre­men­tal and rev­o­lu­tion­ary steps.

For local­iza­tion to work, we must raise our entire local man­u­fac­ture ecosys­tem to glob­al stan­dards. This includes inter­na­tion­al­ly com­pet­i­tive sup­ply chains.

Low val­ue addi­tion can­not fetch opti­mal returns. For instance, if we only processed low grade tea, we would not be reap­ing the high prof­its that our high grade tea fetch­es. The same must apply all local­ly man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts. They must serve both low and high end mar­kets. Chi­na had per­fect­ed this approach, hence the suc­cess of its glob­al mar­ket reach.

High val­ue addi­tion will grant us express access to high end mar­kets and in so doing attract sub­stan­tial­ly increased for­eign direct investments.

Are our local firms and indus­tries ready to man­u­fac­ture world class prod­ucts? Is there a high­ly skilled work­force that can exe­cute the vast­ly increased quan­ti­ty and qual­i­ty of these prod­ucts? To what extent will local cap­i­tal fund new invest­ments towards a revamped local man­u­fac­tur­ing sector?

These ques­tions demand an urgent yet hon­est and elab­o­rate nation­al con­ver­sa­tion that will results in the enact­ment of a com­pre­hen­sive local­iza­tion pol­i­cy that will fur­ther com­ple­ment the Kenya Indus­tri­al­iza­tion Pol­i­cy (KIP) of 2017.

Since there already exists a draft local­iza­tion pol­i­cy I sug­gest that we objec­ti­fy it to ensure that the full force of Kenya’s human and finan­cial resources will be ful­ly deployed to boost local man­u­fac­ture. Indeed, the one mil­lion jobs in one year is a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ty once we move from plan to action. Think green, act green!


About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Hillary kimosop
    January 15, 2023 5:59 am

    Dr.Isaac from look of things, you are a good leader.Through your foun­da­tion we can cre­ate the qout­ed num­ber of jobs to many youth’s..#keep the envi­ron­ment green by planting 🌲 🌲

  • Good morn­ing and a blessed Sun­day to all,
    The Green move­ment foun­da­tion , Ambs.James Gumbau,

    Dear Dr. Green I. Kalua.
    By invo­ca­tion of SDG 17, FC Dynamo appre­ci­ates the efforts of this noble ini­tia­tive to actu­al­ize SDG 13 of Cli­mate Action not only in our region. But globally.
    FC Dynamo is a sport­ing group of youth drawn from diverse back­grounds but domi­ciled at the heart of Kitui town for a sport­ing venture.
    We embrace a num­ber of the sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals of vision 2030 that con­nect to sport­ing activ­i­ties to fos­ter a real­is­tic liveli­hoods for our youths.. e.g
    SDG 1. no Poverty
    SDG 3. Good health & wellbeing
    SDG 5. Gen­der equality
    SDG 8. Decent work & Eco­nom­ic growth
    SDG 13. Cli­mate Action.
    On behalf of the team, I humbly refer you to their ear­li­er request to part­ner in some activ­i­ties touch­ing on SDG 1, 8 & 13.
    we can do a green perime­ter around the Kitui Sta­di­um for con­ducive sport­ing envi­ron­ment for all.

  • Gladstone Muyanga
    January 15, 2023 9:28 am

    Local­iza­tion as opined by Dr Kalua is sure­ly the way to go. Made in Kenya prod­ucts and for local and export mar­ket should be a dream come true soon­er than lat­er to lift mil­lions of Kenyans from poverty


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