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Manufacturing sector to set up Alibaba-like platform to boost exports

In Summary

•The platform will help Kenyan products expand their reach in the East African market and counter the existing intra-trade barriers

•A report by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows Kenya's online shoppers hit the 2.61 million mark in 2017

Kenya Association of Manufacturer chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga on January 30,2017
Kenya Association of Manufacturer chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga on January 30,2017
Image: ENOS TECHE

The manufacturing sector will set up an e-commerce platform to promote exports through increased sale locations.

Kenya Association of Manufactures chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga has said the digital platform will help showcase locally manufactured products to the rest of the world, running like established global online marketplaces such as Alibaba in China and Amazon.

The platform will also help Kenyan products expand their reach in the East African market and counter the existing intra-trade barriers.

"There’s an opportunity to grow exports to EAC even though the amount of trade has been declining over the years. As we work on export competitiveness, we will work on low cost-effective products to ensure growth of the exports," Wakiaga said.

She spoke during the Changamka Shopping Festival at Kasarani Stadium on Friday where local firms were able to showcase their products and sell them at discounted prices.

The need to shift online has been driven by increased online shopping in the country due to ease in payments, and the African region. A report by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released in 2018 showed that Kenyans shopping through the internet hit the 2.61 million mark in 2017 compared to 1.2 million in 2014.

South Africa online shoppers hit 2.93 million, while Nigeria led in the online purchase space with more than four million online buyers.

Export Promotion Council chief executive Peter Biwott said the move will also engage the diaspora community business council to increase promotion and ensure Kenyan companies are present in global markets.

"The advantages of establishing locations in external markets have been evident with local financial institutions such as KCB Group. With the brand Kenya mark, the companies will be able to fix our targets in exports in the country," Biwott said.

EPC will also work with Foreign Affairs and US trade agency, African Growth and Opportunity Act.

 

Kenya’s exports to the East African region fell to Sh115.8 billion in 2017, from Sh122.9 billion the previous year largely attributed to a slowdown in the performance of the manufacturing sector and persistent trade disputes with Tanzania.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Economic Survey 2018 showed that Kenya’s trade with East Africa member states had dropped from Sh127.99 billion.

Uganda, Kenya’s biggest regional market, sliced its imports from Kenya to Sh62.78 million from Sh63.18 the previous year. Exports to Rwanda also dropped to Sh17.37 million from Sh17.78 million.

Tanzania recorded the biggest cut in Kenyan imports to Sh25.39 million in 2017 from Sh35.35 million in 2016.

Kenya’s total exports to the US under the AGOA plan were at Sh32.76 billion in 2017, a drop from Sh34.4 billion in 2016. Kenyans employed under the act, however, increased to 43,987 from 42,496 over the period.