ATHI RIVER, August 25 – President Mwai Kibaki on Monday urged the private sector to constructively engage the government in creating a conducive environment for doing business – especially in reducing bureaucracy and other bottlenecks that hinder business.
Speaking at Athi River, Machakos district, during the official ground breaking ceremony of the National Cement Company, President Kibaki noted that Kenya envisions to becoming the provider of choice for basic manufactured goods in East and Central African region.
President Kibaki called for the restructuring of key local industries that utilize locally available raw materials to make them more competitive adding that such companies must exploit opportunities of adding value to imports which could later be re-exported.
The Head of State noted that the inauguration of the new cement plant was not only timely but also complemented the Government\’s development efforts by making cement available to people at affordable prices.
President Kibaki urged the local community to support the investment adding the government had instituted infrastructural rehabilitation, particularly roads and railway lines, to hasten economic development in the country.
He noted that the region had vast land that could be used to host such investment thus reducing the poverty and unemployment greatly in the area.
President Kibaki said: “The establishment of new factories especially in rural areas will catalyze the economic growth as well provide quality employment opportunities for the youth.”
Meanwhile, the President said the cost of housing could go down with more cement companies showing interest to enter the market.
He noted that the Government was processing more requests from several interested investors in the manufacturing of cement.
“The government welcomes the competition which will ensure that the commodity will be competitively priced,” he said.
The National Cement Company in Athi River becomes the fifth cement production plant in the country after Bamburi, Athi River Mining, East Africa Portland and Tororo cement companies.
He said the inauguration would also boost cement exports to the neighbouring countries and urged local companies to lay strategies in capturing the regional market.
The Head of State noted that the initial production capacity of the plant estimated at 1,000 metric tonnes per day and an expansion room of up to 2,500 metric tonnes per day was a major boost to cement supply to the building industry.
At the same time, Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey said that once the cement factory begins operation, Kenya will have a capacity of 6 million metric tonnes of cement which is more than adequate for the local and regional demand.
He said: “It is projected that cement production locally will be approximately 2.5 million this country has potential we have a lot of limestone so we will be able to meet our future demands from the installed capacity and future factories in Kitui, West Pokot and Koru.”
The President further challenged manufacturing companies in the country to adequately equip themselves to efficiently serve the East and Central African region market saying that five EAC governments have committed themselves to develop the rail and road network.
Speaking during the same occasion Vice-President, Kalonzo Musyoka, expressed confidence that if the current rate of development is sustained as outlined in the Vision 2030, Kenya would be in a position to host the Olympics Games.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Uhuru Kenyatta commended the Government for creating business friendly environment as could be attested by the increased number of investments trickling in the country.