•NITA chair Kamau Gachigi said the partnership means Jua Kali artisans can acquire specific skills suited to their trade for a small fee.
•An artisan who has a specific job can walk into a NITA centre to use the specialized equipment suited for that job and pay a small fee.
The National Industrial Training Authority has partnered with the Kenya National Federation of Jua Kali Associations to provide skilled knowledge for artisans using specialised equipment.
NITA chair Kamau Gachigi said the partnership means Jua Kali artisans can acquire specific skills suited to their trade for a small fee.
“Our role is to train but we also have a lot of equipment which the Jua Kali sector players can now use,” said Gachigi.
This means an artisan who has a specific job can walk into a NITA centre to use the specialized equipment suited for that job and pay a small fee.
Speaking at NITA Mombasa during the launch of the pilot program, Gachigi said Jua Kali sector players will soon be the primary drivers of the Kenyan economy.
Once the program proves successful in Mombasa, it will be rolled out across all the other four NITA centres across the country including Nairobi and Kisumu.
However, the artisans must be registered to or affiliated with an association to be able to access the NITA facilities.
NITA acting director general Stephen Ogenga said the program will also allow skilled artisans but who have no papers to be certified and be officially recognized as professional workers.
“This is an open program. One only needs to come here and demonstrate to us the skills that they have. And then we will use our own systems to certify them,” said Ogenga.
With over 80 per cent of the Kenyan economy anchored on the informal sector, a role significantly played by the Jua Kali sector, Ogenga said enabling the players in the industry through skills up-skilling ad re-skilling is necessary.
This way, Ogenga said, the workers can produce higher quality goods and services that can also be exported to the international market.
President Uhuru has placed more emphasis on manufacturing, one of the Big Four Agenda pillars, with the Jua Kali sector now tasked with producing face masks and certain accessories for the affordable housing pillar.
The program allows artisans to be trained, assessed and certified. The qualification framework has allowed the recognition of master crafts persons.
“These are people who have a lot of experiences – engineers in the Jua Kali sector, who are ale to produce very high quality goods,” said Ogenga.
KNFJKA CEO Richard Muteti said manufacturing will majorly be done by the Small and Medium Enterprises, with the Jua Kali sector taking centre stage.
“The partnership we have with NITA is to give the society and country at large the confidence that our people’s skills," Muteti said.
He said the informal sector employs over 83 per cent of the workforce in Kenya yearly.
The market has been complaining about the quality of quality of products, Muteti noted.
KFJKA secretary general Charles Kalomba said normally, the Jua Kali sector does not manufacture en mass and quality products.
“The GDP of this country is hurting because we don’t provide what if for export in the region and even globally,” said Kalomba.
Import substitution has been a challenge because of the poor equipment and low skills that the sector players have, according to the secretary general.
He said the government has invested heavily in NITA so as to mechanize production.