Brief on Exporters' Forum

President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the National Exporters Forum at Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) held on 21st June, 2013
On arrival at about 10, the President was received by the Cabinet Secretary East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Mrs. Phyllis Kandie, the Chairman of the Export Promotion Council (EPC) Board Mr. Hudson Aluvanze, the Chief Executive Officer of  Kenya Airways Dr. Titus Naikuni and the Chief Executive Officer of Export Promotion Council Ms. Ruth Mwaniki.


In her welcome remarks, the CEO, Ms Ruth Mwaniki re-iterated the importance of the forum as a platform to exchange ideas on trade and identify interventions that would assist in growth of exports.To promote intra-African trade, the CEO said that the Council would carry out need-based research in targeted markets like Angola, South Sudan, DR Congo and the UAE Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and other African countries and disseminate the findings to the business community so that all our marketing and promotion activities, which are expensive to undertake, are informed by empirical data derived from such findings.
Challenging the implementation of policies and plans, the CEO wondered why a 27 kilometer road linking Kenya to the South Sudan market, the Lokichoggio Nadapa road, is yet to be done, though it had been prioritized under MTP I. The same case applied to Isiolo-Moyale that links us to Ethiopia. These have inhibited exports to countries like South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eriteria which have a huge potential.
Mr. Polycarp Igathe, Chairman KAM in his speech acknowledged the immense work that the government was doing and encouraged everyone to be positive about Kenya, as a country instead of criticizing. He said that he fully supported private and public partnership in domestic and export business. He further emphasized the need of harmonizing the export promotion and investment agencies and direct flights to the northern part of Africa in order to exploit the business opportunities in those countries.

Mr. Inder Nain (Board member at KEPSA) who represented the chairman of Kenya Flower Council re-iterated the fact that exports as share of the national GDP has dropped from 40% in 1960 to 26% in 2009. He emphasized the opportunities available in EAC and COMESA and the need to exploit them as the export basket was dominated by primary commodities hence the opportunity for product diversification and value addition.
He indicated that Kenya lacked competitiveness due to high cost of doing business, inadequate country marketing policies and strategies, high cost of trade logistics and under developed competitive export supply chains.

On his part, Dr. Titus Naikuni – Managing Director, Kenya Airways, said that the rest of the world had realized opportunities in Africa and Kenya should take a decisive step to take advantage of such opportunities and be part of unlocking the African opportunity. On challenges that the export sector faces he highlighted market linkage for SMEs and requested for better funding of the Export Promotion Council. The language barrier was also picked as another inhibitor of export especially to non-English speaking countries in central and West Africa.

The EPC Board chairman, Mr. Hudson Aluvanze shared with the head of state an envisaged first small scale industrial park by VIKEN 2030 a group of 300 artisans in Kariobangi and the desire to involve the youth in the productive supply chains.

The Cabinet Secretary Mrs. Phylis Kandie reported that Kenya’s export and tourism sectors have had checkered experiences with ups and downs over the last decade. The happenings in the global market environment have been very volatile, especially against the backdrop of the global financial crises in the developed economies. These crises, she said, had impacted negatively on Kenya’s export and tourism sectors due to slackened demand and reduced travel by tourists from these economies. These are manifested through the country’s export earnings in 2012, nearly stagnating at the same values of 2011. Kenya’s total exports in 2012 stood at KES 518 billion as compared to KES 513 billion in 2011, which was a 1.03% increase as compared to the 24.7% the previous year.

Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta in his keynote address  enumerated challenges affecting export trade in Kenya. These included narrow range of goods exported, NTBs, Non-Tariff Barriers like, Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards etc.
The president went on to elaborate on the need to improve railway transport, in which case his government had factored in the 2013-14 budget plans to embark on the development of a two-track standard railway line from Mombasa to Kisumu. This would reduce the cost of transport substantially.  Furthermore he noted that investment on road network, railway, port and harbour, dry and wet cargo storage, fish landing and processing and ICT would facilitate trade in Kenya. The government would also improve the business environment by making sure that the Single Window System started operating by end of 2013.

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