EXHIBITION

SMEs spoilt for choice at international industrial expo in Nairobi

The three day event closes on Friday

In Summary
  • At least 92 foreign companies mostly from China are expected to showcase the latest manufacturing technology
  • The show area covers a total of 2930 metre square, including indoor and outdoor zooms.
A Chinese exhibitor takes a Kenyan visitor through some of the products being showcased at the expo/COURTESY
A Chinese exhibitor takes a Kenyan visitor through some of the products being showcased at the expo/COURTESY

The annual international industrial expo opened yesterday in Nairobi, giving local traders a chance to shop and build business ties with at least 117 companies showcasing their wares.

The three-day is organised by Afripeak in conjunction with the Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) and Kenya Investment Authority (Keninvest).

At least 92 foreign companies mostly from China are expected to showcase the latest manufacturing technology to local small and medium businesses keen to up productivity and enhance efficiency under the theme ‘building a strong manufacturing sector amidst Covid-19’.

Under the theme ‘Building a strong manufacturing sector amidst Covid-19’ that will support the recovery of the economy which has taken a beating from the pandemic.

According to the 2020 Business Environment Report released by the World Bank, Kenya ranks fourth among African countries and is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa.

Speaking during the opening ceremony at Sarit Centre, Nairobi yesterday, Afripeak managing director Gao Wei said the fourth edition of Kenya International Industrial Expo (KIIE) is aligned with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda on manufacturing.

“Manufacturing pillar is critical to creating jobs for the youth in Kenya. In response to this initiative, such expo seeks to link local industries to their Chinese counterparts, and hence advance technological transfer vital to boosting local production capability,'' Gao said.

The show area covers a total of 2930 metre square, including indoor and outdoor zooms.

This year, organisers have added the Kenyan pavilion, providing 20 local companies with an opportunity to showcase their products and link up with potential overseas buyers.

According to Erick Rutto, first vice Chamber President of KNNCI, the expo is key in helping the country achieve the industrialisation dream under vision 2030.

“The expo provides a platform for technology transfer, boosting inter-trade and enhancing the opening of the gateway between Kenya and China,’’ Rutto said.

He added that last year; the Covid-19 pandemic was a major hindrance to the exhibition with physical meetings being minimal.

This year’s edition is focusing on industrialization, the exhibition field including General Machinery, Construction Machinery, hardware & Tools, Solar & New Energy products, Auto Parts, Chemical Products and Medical Equipment, etc.

In addition, according to the statistics, over the past three years, our exhibition has received more than 4,800 professionals and merchants from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and other countries, with a turnover of around $ 20 million.

Considering the current exceptional situation owning to the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be a follow-up experience adapted last year to continue using a combination of virtual and physical Expo model (Online + Offline Hybrid Expo).

This year, the organizers have maintained a focus on accurate matchmaking between suppliers and buyers.

From as early as the beginning of the year, the organizers set up a display centre at the Sameer Business Park, Nairobi, to allow Kenyan business people to check the samples of settled enterprises and negotiate with the owners at any time, all these will facilitate the ample demand for deal negotiations after the expo.

“In fact, the online business matching exercises are already taking place in their Display Center and are expected to create more value to the exhibition,” Gao said.

The Kenya Investment Authority statistic reveals that the expo comes at a time when the country is scaling up its manufacturing sector.

“Both the Vision 2030 and Big Four Agenda are the government’s economic pillars that seek to transform Kenya into an upper-middle-income economy,'' Investment Promotion and Business Development Manager at Keninvest Pius Rotich said.

He explained that manufacturing, which is one of the anchored pillars seeks to industrialize Kenya and it’s in this background that the Kenya International Industrial Expo plans to link local enterprises to Chinese counterparts.

According to him, local enterprises need to forge a partnership with their Chinese counterpart and tap into their technological growth.

"One of the ways of ensuring local enterprises to grow they must forge a partnership with the likes of China. We are urging the Chinese companies to set up industries here in Kenya by tapping into the government’s industrial parks,'' he said.

He added that they have set up 75 Export Processing Zones across the country which comes with a lot of incentives for investors.

Over the last decade, Kenya has been a leading Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination in Africa, coming third in deal volumes and value, after South Africa and Egypt.

In recent years as a regional business hub, Kenya has experienced GDP growth of between five per cent and seven per cent, and its economic development is growing rapidly.

Historically, the manufacturing sector's contribution to the economy in Kenya has stagnated at around 10 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and was about 8.4 per cent in 2017.

There is renewed interest in the manufacturing sector through the Big 4 Agenda which seeks to increase the GDP contribution of the sector to 15 per cent by 2022.