Kenya’s total apparel exports to the United States stand at US$ 371.66 million, putting her top among countries in the Sub Saharan Africa.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said this in a speech read on his behalf by Industrialization, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya during the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) conference in Nairobi Friday.
“This is a position we have retained for the last four consecutive years. I am also happy to inform you that Kenya will commence direct flights to the USA, providing an added advantage for our Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) exports,” he said.
He noted that without the radical renewal and improvement of infrastructure and connectivity, the country would not attract the investment it needs to create jobs and prosperity in the economy.
The president added that the Government remains focused on further improvement of the business environment, policy coherence and certainty, reduction of the costs of doing business, and maximizing the returns to investment by the companies that choose to invest in Kenya.
He confirmed that the government has strengthened the country’s regulatory and legal framework for investment, which provides for adequate investor protection in line with international standards
The president said that the Government has implemented various policies and structural reforms under the Economic Transformation Agenda to foster rapid social-economic transformation.
“The economy has expanded at an average rate of 5.5 percent per year in the last five years (2013 – 2017) outperforming the average growth rate of 4.5 percent in the 2008 to 2012 and 5.2% in the period 2003-2007,” the President said.
He added that “Per capita income has grown from USD 1,135 in 2013 to an estimated USD 1,663 in 2017. In addition, the economy generated an average of 817,000 new jobs per year in the period 2013 – 2017 up from 656,500 jobs per year in the period 2008-2012.”
The President was optimistic that the conference will assist the government in the recognition of key measures and partners to facilitate transformation of the textile industry and clothing value chain, hence creating job opportunities for the youth, women and other Kenyans.
“We need investments if we are to create the jobs which Kenyans need. As you may already know, the textiles and apparels value chain is a key area of priority in manufacturing, which is a central pillar of my Big 4 Agenda for the next five years,” he said.
CS Munya noted that even though the textile sector was doing well, it needed focus and policy change for it to prosper to fully recover from its breakdown.
ITMF and African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation President Mr. Jas Bedi said mobile technologies have revolutionized the lives of the Kenyans including the 60 percent that live in rural areas.
Bedi said it is necessary to create jobs and income for the creation of a relevant consumer market in Africa.
“The availability of new digital technologies will enable Africa to close the income gap with the West faster than would have been possible in the past,” said Bedi
The conference that has drawn delegates from different parts of the world is the first one to be held in the Sub Saharan Africa and will end on Sunday