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Davis and Shirtliff in expansion plans

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 6 – Leading suppliers of water related equipment Davis and Shirtliff are planning to expand their business in the wider East African region using Kenya as a hub, as it provides a conducive business environment.

The company’s Chief Executive Alec Davis on Wednesday said that over 50 percent of their business comes outside Nairobi and that there was need to penetrate the East and Central African region.

Davis said the lifting of trade barriers for goods within and from the region would facilitate the company’s regional expansion as it would make it easier for the company to export its products across borders.

“In spite of many criticisms from various quarters, Kenya in many ways is not a bad country to do business in and so we are taking advantage of the Kenyan environment to expand regionally,” he said further adding that an attitude change in the East African region would also facilitate its regional penetration plans.

“Tanzanians, Ugandans, Rwandese and Kenyans are beginning to accept the fact that they are part of a region and they do business with each other as opposed to doing business with the Europe or whatever. The major trading is now with their neighbor and that is what all major trading blocs like in Europe or America do,” he said.

Mr Davis also said the lifting of the trade barriers and the integration of a common East African market would significantly boost the economy of the entire region.

“Initially it was a nightmare to get a product from one side of the Namanga border to the other. It was in fact easier to buy a product from the UK or Japan but now it is much easier and it is going to transform trade in this region,” he explained.

He added that the company would also offer affordable products to serve the low-end market as part of increasing its regional and local penetration further explaining that the availability of cheap manufacturing material from the Far East would facilitate this.

“The cheapest pumps will be around Sh3,000 to Sh4,000 plus all the other accessories and components. Right now everybody has a television yet 10 years ago nobody could afford one because global prices for goods are generally coming down,” he said attributing the decline in prices to the Far East.
“For example solar modules have dropped in prices by about 30 percent and they are critical for all the people in the rural areas. We will provide an alternative range of products which will be within the budgets of the man in the street,” he said.

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Mr Davis who was speaking during the opening of the company’s new head office which cost Sh100m to put up, also said the company would continue providing premium quality products.

“The high end market which consists of customers and industries that have higher technical requirements will still remain a very important market for us in our projects,” he said.

The company will also move into solar and renewable energy business. “Our hot water solar system will become important in the urban areas particularly as the government legislates that all houses have solar hot water heating.”

The company’s Managing Director David Gatende meanwhile says the increasing number of boreholes in Nairobi had led to a significant drop of water levels in the water table around Nairobi.

“It is very true that the water table particularly in Nairobi has been falling. We have also noted that the types of pumps we have been selling have been gradually changing. People are now looking for pumps with more stages, more power and with bigger mortars to get more water out of the ground,” Mr Gatende said.

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