By President Uhuru Kenyatta
Good Morning! It gives me great pleasure to join you here today as we make yet another milestone in our country’s journey to industrialization.
Since we took office four and a half years ago, we have made very substantial progress together, in fulfilling the promises we made to transform the lives of every Kenyan. Our progress is not just the work of government: it is the fruit of your hard work. That hard work must continue. We cannot stop now. We cannot allow ourselves to be derailed or distracted. We must keep our eyes on the prize.
It’s time to step back a moment, and remember what we’re working for. We all want prosperity, and we want that prosperity to be shared by every Kenyan, right across the country. That is not the work of one day, or one administration. It takes time.
Today’s anncouncement is part of that process. It is underpinned by our desire to empower the private sector to thrive. If our private sector does well, then it hastens our economic development. If our private sector does well, that development means that our businesses can invest in new parts of the country, and that they can bring jobs – and well-paid jobs at that – for our young people, right across Kenya.
I want to be very clear here. In the manifesto we launched just a couple of days ago, we considered the gains so far and looked ahead to the next phase of our delivery agenda. That next phase depends, essentially, on the creation of jobs for our young men and women through industrialization. We know we cannot have inclusive prosperity unless our sons and daughters across the country have good jobs.
Already, we have made substantial progress towards that goal: every year since 2013, an average of 800,000 have found jobs. This is the way to create a Kenya that provides us all with the platform to achieve our true potential.
I want to thank the investors, both our own Kenyan investors, and our friends from elsewhere – for showing trust in Kenya, for showing trust in Kenyan workers; and for showing trust in the policies this government has implemented.
Our policy strategy has been very clear: we have invested in ports, rail and power; and we have substantially eased the conduct of business in Kenya. The strategy has been richly rewarded: in just the four years since 2013, over 1500 companies have invested in Kenya; more than twenty of them chose Kenya as their Africa headquarters.
Let’s recall some of these successes. Today, Kajiado hosts the first ceramic tile manufacturing company in Kenya: Twyford Ceramics. Today, Wrigley’s Ksh.6bn Plant in Machakos, that is near completion, and Bidco is setting up a Ksh1.5bn factory in Thika. Keroche Breweries recently opened a Ksh.5bn Plant in Naivasha; and Eldoret is now home to Kenya’s first-ever private Special Economic Zone, with over 200bn in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and over 100,000 jobs to follow. Let me also mention that Sultan Hamud has the largest can manufacturer in Africa, GZI, investing over KSh 12bn; and the leather city under construction in Machakos will employ 50,000 Kenyans once complete.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
What we need to do is to keep up this momentum; and to make sure that every part of Kenya benefits. That’s why I am pleased today to announce that Kisumu is next in line to receive record-breaking new investment that will change the lives of our farmers and our young people. This investment – valued at Ksh15billion – will result in a modern, state-of-the-art brewery will see at least 110,000 Kenyans derive a source of livelihood.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Many of us rely on subsistence agriculture to earn a living. But our farming will remain viable only if we move from subsistence production to agribusiness. If we do this right, we will see a significant multiplier effect: creating employment; raising rural incomes; increasing food security; boosting exports and eventually growing our economy. I am delighted to note that Kenya Breweries, along with scores of other businesses across the republic, is helping the government meet this objective – and that this new investment strengthens our national push for a new, transformative way of doing agriculture in Kenya.
Indeed, KBL have contracted about 30,000 smallholder farmers across the country in areas such as Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay as well as Tharaka Nithi, Kitui and Makueni. Farmers in these regions have proved keen growers of sorghum and millet; and they have collectively earned about 2.2billion shillings a year from supplying beer-making raw materials; a sum that will rise if they take the full advantage of the opportunity offered by KBL.
For that reason, I encourage more farmers in this region to become part of KBL’s growth story, to benefit from this plant and the opportunity it offers. This will lead to an increase in sorghum demand, which in turn will support small-scale farmers and utilization of the irrigation schemes in Arid and Semi-Arid regions. According to projections, this plant alone will lead to increased utilization of sorghum from the current 20,000 metric tonnes to around 40,000 in the next five years. Increased demand for sorghum will see the number of contracted farmers grow from 30,000 to around 45,000. As a result, gross additional farmer earnings are expected to reach over Ksh.6billion annually over the next decade.
I’m pleased, therefore, that Kenya Breweries is not only focusing on the bottom line; they’re looking at lifting Kenyans.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In passing, I want to thank Kenya Breweries for introducing Senator Keg, a safe, affordable beer that has helped us all fight the menace of illicit brews. This year, Treasury has done its part by introducing an 80 per cent remission for beers made from sorghum, millet and cassava. Quality brews such as Senator Keg will remain affordable for Wananchi; and the makers and sellers of illicit brews will find life ever harder.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There’s no doubt that we are on the right track. There’s no doubt that Kenya is on the right track. If we work together, we will bring shared prosperity for every Kenyan, wherever in the country they may be, whoever they voted for, whatever language they speak. Our commitment is clear, and simple: we will do everything to make sure that campaigns go smoothly, and that we have a free and fair election, so that Kenyans can choose their leaders in peace, and then return to the task of building the nation.
The writer is the President of the Republic of Kenya