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Kenya plans expos to stem slide of its Africa exports


Kenya plans exhibitions in key African markets to reverse a steady slide in its exports to the continent, which is potentially hurting growth in new jobs amid rising unemployment among graduate youth.
Exports earnings from Africa have been falling steadily since 2011, official statistics show, indicating local factories have been losing their market share, partly due to import substitution amid dwindling industrial competitiveness.
Latest data collated by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) show exports in five months through May fell to Sh91.88 billion from Sh93.05 billion during the same period last year.
The sustained drop in the last eight years is despite the country being a member of the six-nation East African Community (EAC) and 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

Export Promotion Council (EPC), the state-owned agency charged with developing and promoting exports, said it was planning to promote Kenyan-made goods in countries such as Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.
That follows a similar one that was held in Tanzania earlier in the month during Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair.
“For Kenya to achieve an increase of the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product from 8.4 per cent (in 2017) to 15 per cent (in 2022), Africa remains the single most lucrative market for her exports,” EPC chief executive Peter Biwott said in a statement.
“There is thus the need to aggressively pursue promotional activities in the EAC as well as the entire continent with a view to take advantage of market access opportunities.” Kenya’s exports to Africa in the five-month period to May, however, accounted for 34.41 per cent of Sh267.02 billion total exports earnings in the period, the CBK data shows.

Intra-Africa trade remains at a lowly 10 per cent, meaning African countries trade more with other continents such as Europe than they do among themselves.
The country is championing a plan to remove trade barriers among African countries to encourage movement of goods, services and labour through African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA,) which will create a market of at least 1.2 billion people upon ratification.
Kenya and Ghana on May 10 became the first countries to ratify the AfCFTA deal which requires a minimum of 22 countries to be operationalised.
The country on June 8 also led from the front by presenting documents ratifying the proposed Comesa-EAC- Southern African Development Community (SADC) tripartite free trade area to Comesa secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya.
The Comesa-EAC-SADC trade agreement, reached in June 2015 bringing together 27 Eastern, Central and Southern Africa’s countries, requires a minimum of 14 countries to ratify in order to come into force.