In Summary
  • There are newer, more efficient and productive operations that adhere to more commercial norms.
  • Kenya is not only a major gateway for imports and exports, but also many regional operations are based here.

After the best part of the year being held hostage to drought and electioneering, it is time to move the economy into a more proactive mode.

Providing more opportunities for the many people coming into the job market is as much about resuscitating existing activities and opportunities and creating new ones.

It is about looking at the drivers of economic and commercial activity and seeing where their performance can be improved.

SUGAR

Take the sugar industry, for example. Despite the vast swathes of land in Nyanza, western and the coast under sugar cultivation we import at least a third of our needs.

We produce some of the most expensive sugar in the world in those limping old factories when you take into account losses and bailouts.

Even more ironical is that much of our sugar growing belt is a sea of poverty and neglect due to the incapacities and inefficiencies of these dinosaurs.

There are newer, more efficient and productive operations that adhere to more commercial norms.

FACTORIES

What we have is a tale of two sugar industries and the challenge is to drag the monoliths out of the old world and into the new one.

The tale of two industries shows cane can be grown and processed much more efficiently and economically.

What we must do is take the likes of Nzoia, Chemelil, Sony, Muhoroni and Mumias sugar firms’ operations and resuscitate them.

That formula will inevitably involve a mix: Getting the government out of the activity of running sugar factories; considerable radical surgery to reduce bloated work forces, cutting inflated costs and replacing inefficient production methods.

It might also involve the merging of some operations and the diversification from total reliance on sugar production.

MANUFACTURING
While there will be some initial job losses the eventual outcome will be more opportunities in a more vibrant environment.

There are many other underperforming entities or lost opportunities in other sectors.

Manufacturing is plagued by high costs of production.

Some items literally cost more than imported equivalents even after being subjected to import tariffs.

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