Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga promises to position the country as a manufacturing hub for the East and Central African region if he is elected president in the August 9 general election.
Mr Odinga, the at the forefront of opinion polls, unveiled his coalition party Azimio One Kenya’s election manifesto on Monday and pledged continuity in the economic diplomacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s current administration, while reducing borrowing that increased public debt and undermined the latter’s second-term implementation of the development agenda the Big Four.
Vice President William Ruto, the other frontrunner in the race to succeed President Kenyatta, is expected to present his campaign agenda on June 30.
The key highlight of the Azimio Manifesto’s ambitious endeavor to increase the manufacturing sector’s share of GDP from the current 7.5 percent 30 percent increase, citing the sector’s huge potential to create jobs and boost Kenya’s exports to the region et.
Kenya’s manufacturing sector is currently the most developed in the EAC, with at least 40 percent of the goods are exported to other countries in the region.
Its top exports to the EAC The market includes pharmaceuticals, oil, cement, steel, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and confectionery.
The market is facing increasing competition as neighboring countries strengthen domestic manufacturing capacity, implement cross-border trade rules and buy cheaper products from China.
Kenya manufacturers have also complained about rising energy costs, high taxes and counterfeiting, which they believe to make locally produced goods less competitive with imports from countries like Egypt.
President Kenyatta committed to addressing some of the problems me of the sector during his second term in office by making manufacturing one of the four pillars of his Big Four agenda and setting a target of 15 percent contribution to GDP.
With just two months to go Expiry of his Constitutiona After two terms in office, the transformation of manufacturing he has promised remains a pipe dream.
If elected, Mr Odinga says his will include tax and financial policies and regulations to promote and support the improve manufacturing and review energy, transport and logistics costs and fight counterfeiting.
Mr Odinga, who after his handshake deal with President Kenyatta in March 2018, has been credited for his role in ensuring political stability in the country, enjoys the backing of a number of local business tycoons.
Azimio’s presidential candidate also has private interests in manufacturing, having invented the LPG cylinder in 1971 founder East Africa Spectre.
But his proposal to revitalize Kenya’s textile industry has already divided public opinion after appearing to spell the future of the second-hand clothing business – popularly known as Mitumba – Rival UDA party’s campaign has picked up on Mr Odinga’s comments in which he described Mitumba as clothing that was “worn by dead people” to portray the former prime minister as anti-poverty .
Mr Ruto has campaigned for the past four years on a populist platform to empower millions of the country’s micro-enterprises such as greengrocers and handcart pushers and motorcyclists (bodabodas) to scale their businesses.
He also intends to reform the judicial system to improve the investment climate and attract more foreign direct investment and industries such as leather, Textiles, paper and other animal feed to revive.