By Claire Wanja
Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) is set to invest Sh 2billion annually to create strategic industries countrywide, reduce rate of unemployment among youth and boost the economy.
The state-owned development finance institution is betting on passing of a Bill currently in parliament that proposes to revise ICDC’s Act to include provision of between 0.1 to 0.2 percent of the country’s revenues each year to support the setup of strategic industries that will harness creativity and innovation of youth in the counties.
ICDC Chairman, Francis Kimemia said the Bill which is likely to be passed by Parliament in a short while will focus the corporation’s business even more in the counties in the coming years.
“We are looking at a more restructured ICDC that focuses on projects supporting growth of youth and catalyzing development within the counties. Once the Bill is passed, it will bring Sh 2 billion per year into our business portfolio,” said Kimemia during the annual staff long service awards ceremony.
Latest World Bank report shows that despite Kenya being the largest Economy in East Africa, the rate of joblessness among youth is three times that of its neighbors, Uganda and Tanzania at 17.3 percent of the over 44 million population.
According to the report, Kenya has a working-age population of 25.5 million, more than half of the total population with projections that the number could rise to 39 million over the next 14 years.
ICDC Chairman said passing of the Bill will create more jobs for youth and boost cash flow in the economy to propel the country’s quest to transform into an industrialized middle income economy.
“My appeal to Parliament is to fast track passing of the Bill to help bridge this huge unemployment gap and pass impending benefits to our youth,” said Kimemia.
The Bill proposed by youthful Buuri Constituency Member of Parliament, Kinoti Gatobu has received support from ICDC and Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives.
ICDC recently reviewed downwards interest rates on its facilities to 13 percent which is below commercial bank rates as part of its strategic plan to align activities with its new mandate through opening access to growth funds for entrepreneurs.
Once the Bill becomes law, it will ensure that ICDC can once again play a significant role in the country’s development as the government’s investment arm, a role it played previously with creation of such industrial ventures as Eveready EA Ltd, General Motors EA Ltd, Dawa Pharmaceuticals, Firestone East Africa, East African Industries and many others that were considered strategic to the young nations growth and development at the time.
The Chairman said ICDC has been re-categorized upgrading its classification from C to A in State corporations’ status. The new status will enable the Corporation attract and retain the talent required to enhance its effectiveness in the implementation of industrial projects to champion the youth empowerment agenda in the counties.
“ICDC wants to bring value to youth within the counties. Unless we think outside the box and harness the energy of our youth to grow the country’s economy, despondency among youth is likely to grow with issues like unemployment becoming explosive and leading to insecurity and other anti-social behaviors,” said Kimemia.
ICDC’s three year strategy ending 2018, outlines the corporation’s plan to align its activities and objectives with Kenya Vision 2030’s economic pillar to boost job creation in the economy.
ICDC Acting Executive Director, Kennedy Wanderi was upbeat the corporation will hit its investments target of Sh 1.2 billion in this financial year ending June 2017. The Corporation has so far disbursed Sh 625 million to support small businesses across the country with another Sh 369 million approved and waiting disbursement.
The Corporation is also on course to achieving its profit target for the year having realized Sh 200 million in revenues for the first quarter.
“We are going to achieve this if we maintain the momentum and our business focus.” said Wanderi.
ICDC is keen on supporting projects and businesses in manufacturing, agro-processing, infrastructure, energy and software development sectors.