Kenya’s quest to become a regional manufacturing power-house is facing serious headwinds due to lack of skilled and technical personnel.
Research by Strathmore University says the cost and quality of power remain as an impediment that the country needs to deal with in a bid to push manufacturing output to 20 percent in five years.
Under the big four blueprint, Kenya plans to expand its manufacturing base from the current 9.2 percent to 20 by the year 2022.
The research says the cost of energy, political climate, and taxes are the main external factors that impede production growth in the industry.
According to Strathmore University lead researcher, Professor Ismail Ateya, manufacturers have also expressed concerns in serious technical skills gap calling on the government to create educational incentives that will boost ICT and technical skills uptake among Kenyans.
Professor Ateya, further says the lack of skilled and technical personnel within the manufacturing industry is another challenge that Kenya has to grapple with as it seeks to become a regional manufacturing super-power.
Trade Principal Secretary, Betty Maina says the government has developed financial incentives for students at Technical Vocational Education and Training Institutions with a key focus on those pursuing courses related to manufacturing.
PS Maina says the government is pushing for internship offers for technical students to boost technological skills in the manufacturing industry.
With the advancement of technology, the PS is urging manufacturers to also address internal factors that affect their operations such as improving equipment while the government takes care of the external challenges.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in 2017 indicate that the manufacturing sector accounted for 9.2 percent of GDP, 26 percent of merchandise exports and 12 percent of total employment created.