•According to CS Betty Maina, increased unemployment in the country is not simply driven by a lack of demand but is exacerbated by a lack of competent skills.
•Government targets among others, development of the iron and steel industry through the establishment of an integrated steel mill
The government has identified specific goals and targets to steer growth as the country strives to catch up with the fourth industrial revolution.
The fourth industrial revolution is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology.
Among government targets is the development of the iron and steel industry through the establishment of an integrated steel mill.
It is also keen on the development of small and medium enterprise (SME) parks, industrial and technology parks, and industrial manufacturing clusters, Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development CS Betty Maina has said.
This will also seen the upgrading of products from small and medium enterprises, skills development for the technical human resource for the manufacturing sector and commercialization of research and development results, to attract strategic investors.
This is in iron and steel industries, ago-processing, machine tools and machinery,motor vehicle assembly and manufacture of spare parts.
The Global Human Capital Report 2019 places Kenya at an overall position of 78 out of 130 countries on the development of future skills and position 74 in the use of specialized skills at work.
According to the CS, increased unemployment in the country is not simply driven by a lack of demand but is exacerbated by a lack of competent skills that would enable Kenya to adapt to the transformations that are fast changing workplaces.
“Kenya has an unprecedented opportunity to overturn the skills gap and ramp up entrepreneurship by promoting local manufacturing,” the CS said during a visit of the Gearbox Academy in Nairobi.
Gearbox is an engineering innovation hub supporting talented inventors and technology entrepreneurs through among others, provision of design spaces, capacity to develop and prototype ideas, provide Human Centered Development education, and developing of value chain linkages which help innovators.
It is proving to add value into the 4th industrial revolution, where Kenya’s manufacturing growth is facing deficits.
Vision 2030 envisaged that the sector would contribute at least 10 per cent per annum to GDP.
To achieve this, there has been a push to strengthen the capacity and local content of domestically manufactured goods, increase the generation and utilization of research and development results and raise the share of products in the regional market from seven to 15 per cent.
There is also a call to develop niche products for existing and new markets.
Gearbox has shown the expertise and capability to design, build and manufacture a variety of items required by government under the Big 4 as part of the Buy Kenyan Build Kenya project, and the post- Covid economic recovery, CS Maina said.
This includes medical equipment, furniture for schools and sundry items for the affordable housing project.
“I am particularly excited about one of their significant projects that is already under implementation for food security, that is the provision of 28,000 greenhouses for hydroponic farming,” the CS noted.
This is under the Young Africa Works banner funded by The Mastercard Foundation and KCB Foundation, targeting the creation of 1.5 million jobs by 2023.
According to the CS, there are key value-add benefits that can be derived across the local economy through partnership with Gearbox and MachineANI such as creation of youth employment and development of the local manufacturing industry.
Others are support of MSMEs (particularly the jua-kali artisans) through sourcing of manufacturing inputs and promotion of the 4th industrial revolution in Kenya.