By Muriithi John
Laikipia has demonstrated that it is possible for Kenya to become an industrialized nation by
2030. Chosen by the State Department Industrialization as the host of this year’s Africa Industrialization
Week, Laikipia clearly impressed top government officials and other agencies charged with the responsibility of driving the industrialization process with its practical SME growth model. “Kenya may not industrialize unless we make drastic changes. Not just to policy – which is wrong because it promotes imports of machines and tools. We must also match policy pronouncements with appropriate action, and at scale,” Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, a former assistant minister for industrialization said.
There was no question that Laikipia’s model is the path that the government agencies should follow
if they were truly committed to driving the industrialization process. “The Governor has shown passion in helping
these MSEs growth. I’ll consult the CS so that we
open a KIRDI (Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute) branch in here. We go where we are needed and where there is proof that our services are in dire need,” said Industrialization chief administrative secretary David Osiany.
Laikipia’s model is so far handholding 1,545 enterprises with a number of them ripe for graduation to the secondary manufacturing tier. These enterprises have so far created 22,000 jobs both
directly and indirectly. Through the Laikipia Innovation and Enterprise
Development Programme, the enterprises the enterprises get 360 degree business advisory services from 200 business development officers.
The county in partnership with several financial institutions has put together Kshs3.3 billion fund
from where local enterprises can access up to Kshs 4 million.
“The aim is to reach 5,000 businesses. If this is replicated in all the 47 counties, we will be achieving true industrialization,” Governor Ndiritu Muriithi told the guests. Kenya may not industrialize unless we make drastic changes. Not just to policy – which is wrong because it promotes imports of machines and tools- but by matching policy pronouncements with appropriate action, and at scale!
One of the main reasons for government existence is to create an enabling environment for
business to thrive.
As a proof that Laikipia is progressing well towards industrialization, the Ministry chose
Laikipia to be the venue for the Africa Industrialization Week. This helped in bringing together different bodies that should facilitate manufacturing in the country.
Top government officers agreed that the Laikipia model should be rolled out to the rest of the counties to realize an industrialized country. Some products produced in Laikipia have gone to the international market.
Industrialization PS Amb. Kirimi Kaberia insisted on the need to open and support industries where raw materials are and not transporting raw material to industries. Calling upon people to utilize Laikipia products, Amb. Kaberia gave an example of Mwireri Drier, which has a solution to aflatoxin. “We have in the past had some millers who could not buy Kenyan maize because it has aflatoxin which comes because of mishandling of the cereals. And here we are saying, pick
your maize, dry it in the right way and with that we will be able to increase not only value
but also shelf life,” said Amb. Kaberia. On his part PS State Department of Trade Amb. Johnson Weru said that time is now ripe for Kenyans to fully exploit all the available markets for local products.
“We have reached a certain stage in our development where we must go beyond our
boundaries. If you are able to take your products in neighboring countries, we have collapsed and still collapsing these markets in COMESA, CEDC, EAC and African Continental Free Trade Area,” said Amb. Weru. Amb. Weru insisted that the main reason for
having bodies of standard certification is to ensure the products comply to the standard
requirement of other countries for competitiveness.
“Our ambition is to produce what we are currently importing. That is why we have this day to give impetus and hope to our local manufacturers,” said Amb. Weru.
Governor Muriithi insisted on the need to put our money where our mouth is to realize true
development. We also need to believe in ourselves and the products produced within our
boarders. It is impossible to get out of poverty without industrializing.
Laikipia has high percentage mineral deposits that need to be exploited and enable the county to lower cost of production for the manufacturing industries. This will in turn help in achieving true independence. True independence comes from control of your means of production for the items you consume every day.