NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 3- Manufacturing giant HACO Industries has said it’s all set to take advantage of the immense opportunities that the implementation of the Common Market Protocol in July portends for the business community.
Managing Director Polycarp Igathe said their partners have injected nearly Sh100 million to upgrade its factory in readiness for the exploitation of the single market and investment area that will be created once the protocol is enforced.
“The region has 126 million people, 70 percent of whom are beyond the age of 40 and that for us this is a big opportunity,” he said.
He further pointed to the positive economic prospects in the East Africa region which he said gave them the confidence they need to grow their business.
Although affected negatively by the second wave of the global financial crisis, economists project that the East African economies will accelerate in 2010 driven largely by improved infrastructure development and favourable weather conditions.
HACO manufactures and distributes stationery, personal care and household detergents for PLI Alberto-Culver USA, E.T.Browne Co. USA, Société BIC France and Jeyes UK.
In 2008, it sold a 51 percent stake to Tiger Brands from South Africa in a bid to increase HACO’s market share in the Fast Consumer Good Company product market.
Speaking while taking a delegation drawn from Société BIC for a tour of the factory, Mr Igathe said although counterfeits still pose a threat to their business, they were satisfied with the commitment that the government has shown in the fight against the substandard goods.
“We believe the government has done a lot in for example enacting a law (Anti Counterfeit Act of 2008) and now it is operationalising a parastatal, the Anti Counterfeit Agency to help us with this menace,” he said.
The counterfeits issue is one of the many challenges that both local and regional firms have to grapple with. It is estimated that the region loses approximately Sh38 billion ($500 million) in lost tax revenues every year to the menace while manufacturers lose billions more and become uncompetitive.
To counter this effect, the government in December last year inaugurated a 15-member board of the Agency which will be charged with curbing trade in fake goods. The chairman of the Agency was recently gazetted while the post of their Chief Executive Officer should be advertised in the next three weeks.
While expressing satisfaction with the operations at HACO and the business climate in the country, BIC General Manager for Emerging Markets Edgar Hernandez pledged that they would pump in more funds into the company in a bid to grow the business and meet the ever-increasing demand for their products.
“We are impressed with the way things have been going and it looks like we might be growing it a little bit more for the future. It something positive and for us and HACO, it means good business,” he said.
Their continued partnership, he observed also meant increased employment opportunities for Kenyans and is a big contribution to the economy.