Strengthening pursuit of national export growth agenda
Dr Wilfred Marube
Kenya is indeed expected to rise above the waves of Covid pandemic in terms of economic recovery according to the 23rd Edition of Economic Update recently launched by World Bank.
According to the report, the economy is expected to continue to recover and gradually return to growth, with real GDP growth projected at 4.5 per cent in 2021 and to be over five per cent on average in 2022-23.
There has been gradual, normalisation in economic activity in most sectors, including manufacturing and the exports sector.
Despite weaker global economic backdrop due to the effects of the global pandemic, Kenya’s resilience in most sectors remains certain with the 2020 Export Performance Report indicating a 7.8 per cent growth.
Key exports are flowers, coffee, tea, fruits, vegetables and textiles. The focus also includes, leather and footwear, metal and allied, chemical and allied, pharmaceutical and medical equipment, plastic and rubber, light engineering, automotive parts and furniture.
Kenya exports considerable quantities of professional services globally including nurses, doctors, social workers, teachers, engineers, architects, economists, financial analysts, accountants, software developers and scientists. We also export financial and transport services.
According to statistics, 65.4 per cent of products exported landed in Uganda, Pakistan (9.7 per cent), US (7.7), Netherlands (7.6), UK (6.6), United Arab Emirates (5.7), Tanzania (4.9), Egypt (3.3), Rwanda (2.9), DRC and Somalia (2.5 per cent each) and South Sudan (2.1), North America (8.4), Latin America, excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, (0.9) then Oceania led by Australia (0.5).
To increase and improve the export trade, the Ministry of Industialisation and its key agencies such as Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (BrandKE) are implementing the Integrated National Export Development and Promotion Strategy to help Kenya’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises innovate and realise their potential in new value chains and products.
For all concluded trade deals, BrandKE is keen to develop implementation strategies.
Currently, the ministry is at the tail end of reviewing Agreement including African continental free trade area (AfCFTA) implementation and communication strategy to ensure the National AfCFTA implementation strategy among other aspects increases the GDP, overall exports and exports to all African sub-regions as well as boosts manufacturing and other value-added exports.
One of the key impediments to our export performance is the question of quality and pricing of products.
Consumers in target market are quality and price sensitive. We must, therefore, polish our products and ensure they are competitively priced to survive the stiff competition in the global marketplace.
Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary (SPS) measures and standards are meant to ensure consumer protection and confidence in domestic or imported food and feed.
To effectively facilitate trade and narrow down trade balance between countries, Kenya has entered various SPS related frameworks which further domesticate the SPS’s AfCFTA, East African Community-Comesa-SADC tripartite and a few bilateral agreements, including EAC-EU- Economic Partnership Agreement.
Kenya is, therefore, keen to pursue knowledge sharing and technology transfer in laboratory testing, inspections, agriculture and seed production methods, agro-processing and value addition and treatments in the agriculture and food sectors.
Thus, collaboration with competent authorities in SPS, Research in SPS,and toxicological studies, risk analysis in plant and animal health and food safety for trade in agriculture is beneficial to all.
All players will benefit.
BrandKE together with the ministry of Industrialisation is charged with the role of formulating and implementing policies that are expected to aid the realisation of the national goals aligned towards job and wealth creation.
This is being done through offering fiscal support by establishing the MSE Development Fund, as provided for under Part 5 of the MSEA Act, 2012, section (51(1)), which will provide affordable credit facilities to the MSMEs.
Once this fund is operationalised, it is expected to specifically address challenges attributed to limited access to affordable financing by financing the promotion and development of Micro and Small Enterprises, providing affordable and accessible credit to MSEs, financing capacity building of MSEs, as well as financing research, innovation and transfer of technology in MSE sector.— The writer is CEO, Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency