The machine, which was sourced from Bosch in Germany, will see the company increase its production capacity from about 1,500 tonnes a year to 8,500 tonnes in the next three years.
Speaking during the commissioning of the machine, Kenafric Industries Vice Chairman Bharat Shah said the new machine will create an additional 100 jobs bringing the number of employees working for Kenafric to 1,600.
“The 100 is the direct jobs that will be created as a result of this investment, notwithstanding the additional jobs that will be created due to value addition of our products across the 16 markets in Africa that we operate in,” he said.
Kenafric Industries boasts of being the only manufacturing company in the African region to have invested in this kind of machine.
Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgei lauded Kenafric Industries for this move noting that the machine was a worthwhile investment considering it was the only one of its kind in the African Region.
“I am proud to see a company that begun as a family business 28 years ago become a leader in the region as a result of investing in new technologies and innovation that will make it an even more competitive business entity in the African Region,” he said.
The new confectionery machine will among other things ensure consistency in colour, size and shape of the chiclets it produces ensuring that the product is exactly the same at point of purchase throughout the year.
Furthermore the machine is more energy efficient allowing Kenafric Industries to sell their leading chewing gum brand ‘Fresh’ for two shillings less than their competitors, which means Sh20,000 savings daily to the end consumer.
Speaking during the commissioning ceremony, Shah confirmed that the company intends to invest an additional Sh3 to Sh4 billion in the region in the next two years in a bid to grow its markets across the East African Community.
“There are huge opportunities with Africa being the next frontier of growth and Kenafric would like to increase the number of markets we are trading in to over 30,” Shah explained.
Shah lauded the government for its increased efforts in improving infrastructure in the country, which he said has created a more enabling environment for local businesses to thrive.
He however requested the government to look into the issues of extremely high bonds on imported sugar and delays on VAT refunds that are causing undue stress to businesses in the manufacturing sector.
“Kenafric Industries is owed 300 million shillings on VAT refunds from 2007-2008. Money, which if released to us could be put into more capital investment,” he noted.
“Bonds for imported sugar in this country are too high and have to be paid for upfront, making our products uncompetitive compared to those of our neighbours in Uganda and Tanzania,” he added.