Which way forward for local manufacturing sector?

The manufacturing sector has played a major role all over the world in helping economies realize high growths and better incomes. It has been a key factor in sustaining development, job creation and in alleviating poverty. However, in Africa the sector’s contribution to economy has stagnated and reduced in a number of countries.

In Kenya the sector had stagnated for the longest period being only able to grow at 0.5% in 2017. Since then, it has shown signs of growth as according to the Economic Survey 2019, the sector had increased its growth to 4.2%. This can be accredited to favourable weather conditions that allowed increased production in a number of products such as tea. Also, the fact that the sector was included in the Big 4 agenda, which seeks to increase its contribution to the GDP to 15% by 2022, saw its funding increase.

As a result the Government has tried to revive the sector by various measures such as the revival of Rivatex, one of the oldest textile company based in Eldoret, allocating funds for development of textile and leather industrial parks and the reduction in the cost of electricity. This enabled the sector to grow. However, despite its growth, unemployment is still on the rise as job layoffs and business closures continue to increase leading to the economic slowdown.

The slackness has also been accredited to the lack of access to credit in the private sector. However, other factors have also played a role such as inadequate training and low level of skills that have seen productivity remain fairly low when compared to global competitors. In order to increase productivity and match it to that of the global competitors, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) introduced the Manufacturing Academy. 

The academy, according to its manager, Ms Catherine Mukoko has the objective to offer high quality, relevant and timely training programs that will raise competency levels in industry to improve competitiveness and productivity across all industrial sectors. It aspires to provide capacity building programs that will align workforce to reforms to identify new approaches that further develop a competent, flexible, sustainable and productive workforce.

 It also aims to provide workforce development that embraces technology and links with training standards that match changing service needs and demands as well as encourage a culture of capacity building training within the manufacturing industry. 

As of December 2018, Ms Mukoko says, the manufacturing academy had trained 1700 delegates from various industries in the Kenyan market. Last year the academy, which has put in place monitoring programmes to ascertained increased productivity, trained over 500 delegates. 

We do have follow up sessions with the participants. Every organization has unique training needs and the training acts as a filler to this gap. After the training, the HR leaders monitor the performance versus the productivity levels of the employees to determine the effectiveness of the training to advise if there is a need for further training. For some industries, we do consultancies for firm-level interventions that arise as a result of the training,” she says.

The Academy has delivered training in many diverse fields. The consultancies are developed to meet the unique needs of the industry thus catering for both formal and informal sector. It has also trained Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the development of their business plans to ensure that they are bankable.

Furthermore, it has also designed a Business Growth Program – a modular program that incorporates courses that will help the businesses in attaining business competitiveness. Through their pool of qualified trainers with vast experience in the industry, delegates are able to acquire practical information & theoretical knowledge and get case studies that are specific to the Kenyan
Manufacturing Sector.  

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