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Plan to unlock Kenyan export potential

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24 – A strategy that is meant to enable Kenya unlock the huge potential that exists in the export market has been launched.

Through the "Export Brands Kenya" the country hopes to raise the profile of its brands as well as encourage the development of other high quality products and services that can effectively compete in the global market.

The Brand Liaison Director at Export Brands Kenya Herman Shadeya said that through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative, they hope to encourage more Foreign Direct Investments to Kenya and the wider Eastern Africa region.

"Export Brands will therefore create a platform for expanding Kenya\’s export potential and increasing the number of players through operations that not only impact on the quality and volumes of products and services being made available in the markets beyond our borders but also builds value for Kenya\’s offerings," Mr Shadeya said.

A booklet detailing Kenya\’s indigenous export firms will also be published in an attempt to increase the visibility of the export brands and spur their demand.

However, only companies with a turnover of $1 million (Sh84 million) per annum and those that are members of specified apex bodies will be eligible to have their products profiled in the book.

Last year, the market contributed Sh409.7 billion in foreign exchange although this was derived from the traditional exports such as tea, coffee, apparels and horticulture, which means that Kenya is not able to capitalise on its premium products.

For instance, about 98 percent of locally produced coffee is exported in raw form for processing where it is blended with coffee from other destinations. This is however not always acknowledged when such brands are marketed which means that Kenya loses out.

What this calls for is the need to diversify the market through, for example, laying greater emphasis on value addition to the country\’s products as well as the promotion of manufactured goods as a shift from the over reliance on primary exports.

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When this happens, Kenya should strive to conquer the greater East African market which has a population of over 130 million and thus a substantial consumer base. Doing so would also present the much needed job opportunities for the millions of unemployed youth in the country.

Before this is attained however, the government would have to create an enabling environment through the formulation of friendly policies that can promote the development of the exports industries.

Export Promotion Council (EPC) Chairman Njeru Ndwiga emphasised the importance of urgently addressing the cross-cutting obstacles that hinder the country from taking full advantage of the huge export market opportunities.

Proper branding of the exports coupled with efforts to increase their visibility would do the trick, he reckoned.

As the body mandated with the development and promotion of export trade, Mr Ndwiga disclosed that they were also carrying out various initiatives to prop up informal sector players to enable them contribute towards the sector.

Through the Export Promotion Villages, EPC intends to assist \’jua kali\’ traders such as those in the arts and crafts field, to market their wares in the international market.

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