Nairobi County Government’s Digital Economy and Startups Sub-Sector in partnership with Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Associations (KNFJKA) and Labour Organization (ILO) is hosting a two-day Juakali Wood Conference 2023 themed Digitization of the Informal Sector.
Speaking during the event opening, County Executive for Innovation and Digital Economy, Mike Gumo noted that; “The wood conference is a natural progression from the successful Innovate Nairobi Tech Week 2023, where Nairobi County Government under Digital economy and startup sector, Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Associations (KNFJKA), Labour Organization (ILO) and GIZ South Africa-PIDA-NEPAD co-hosted the ‘Digitalization of the Informal Sector’ Thematic Track,”
“Amongst the collaboration that stakeholders have agreed to explore is Distributed Manufacturing (DM) as one of the models for digitizing the informal sector enabling the sector to capture significant value in the market and address the high mortality (over 75 percent) currently being experienced by SMEs in Kenya,” Gumo indicated
The CECM who represented Governor Johnson Sakaja at the event added, “Governor Sakaja recognizes and appreciates the role each of the organizations represented today in supporting the digitization of Kenya’s Jua Kali sector ensuring we improve our youths’ economic disposition and more specifically choosing to partner with Nairobi City County as we value community and market-driven approach which is the only way to ensure interventions are effective and resonate with stakeholders. The community approach is in line with the national government’s drive to adopt public-private partnerships (PPP) in supporting the development agenda. This approach not only brings private sector efficiency in program implementation but also program sustainability.”
Ag. Industrialisation Secretary and Director of Agro Industries, Nobby Macharia, who represented Principal Secretary of the State Department for Industry, Dr. Juma Mukhwana shared that the main objective of County Aggregation and Industrial Parks (CAIPs)
is to grow manufacturing and investments through industrial development and enhance the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector in a sustainable manner, hence creating inclusive decent jobs, increasing value chain actors’ income, and increasing foreign exchange.
County Chief Officer for Digital Economy and Startups, Victor Otieno stated that the digital economy and startup sub-sector has an overall objective of supporting the already vibrant startup and innovation ecosystem that exists in Kenya as well as digitalization of Kenya’s jua kali sector especially informal manufactures to expand their market presence in Kenya, the region and continent underpinned on regional economic blocs such as EAC, COMESA and ultimately African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He stated that the sub sectors’ approach to supporting digitalization of Kenya’s jua kali sector, especially informal manufacturers is codified under CIPD 2023-2027 and adopts user-centered design and market-driven approach in its implementation by choosing to work very closely with stakeholders in the ecosystem as represented during Innovate Nairobi Tech week that took place in August 2023 as well as the wood conference.
Said Mr. Otieno; “This Conference is especially critical to Nairobi County as we seek to explore opportunities for Jua kali in light of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that brings together Africa’s 1.2 billion population and combined market of $2.5 Trillion.
Digitalization of Juakali, if implemented well, will accrue benefits first to local entrepreneurs and government through economic expansion and job creation.”
County Chief Officer for Markets, Trade, and Cooperatives, Godfrey Akumali said the County Government was willing and open to partnering with various stakeholders on county programs to create a city of Dignity, Order, Hope, and Opportunities for all.
He said, “County Aggregation Industrial Parks (CAIP) has kicked off in 47 counties, and when the concept was presented to Nairobi County to submit two value chains, we opted to aggregate, and Nairobi County came up with wood and metal options. We have to improve our quality to meet the expected standards of our consumers. We must also reduce wastage because the resource we use in wood is not infinite. Part of what we are doing within our CAIP industry is not just to create a structure but also to create a center for excellence where people can come and learn. ”
Nyamai Wambua, Head of Programs Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Associations, said, “The issue of manufacturing and supporting the Juakali Sector to produce better quality for export is a very key area of interest to us. This conference is a continuous conversation with the Government entities because we have a major agenda of making sure that the Juakali Sector moves together with the other sectors of the economy and participates in the economic development as well as the advancement of technology”.