Kenya beginning to cash in on Agoa

Published date:
Thursday, 25 July 2002
Source:
Business Report

Nairobi - Kenya's cotton industry, on its knees after decades of political neglect, is set for revival thanks to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

The law was passed by the US Congress more than two years ago to help sub-Saharan African countries by allowing duty-free exports to the world's greatest economy. The opportunities have goaded the local business community and industrialists into stepping up their production.

"The statistics of trade growth from Kenya to America are mind boggling," said Peter Kariuki, the chief executive of the Agoa Association of

Kenya.

According to the trade and industry ministry, Kenya's exports of manufactured textiles to the US accounted for 546 million Kenyan shillings (about R57 million) last year. This had risen to over 2 billion shillings by the beginning of this month.

Kariuki said the future was rosy as "the demand for our textiles as well as honey, leather and leather products, arabica coffee, artificial fishing flies, marine products and agricultural raw materials - all of which are produced by Kenya's 1,3 million small and medium-scale companies - is rising steadily".

The production by the small and medium firms holds the key to the revival of the country's struggling economy as they form 18 percent of the gross national product of 780 billion shillings.

"This sector can give the economy a kick-start by doubling our national wealth in a few years," trade ministry public relations officer Odongo Manyala said.

Since the advent of Agoa, the cotton farmers have stepped up production, giving rise to the Cotton Ginners Association. And the Kenya Agoa Association is to mobilise over 10 000 enterprises through countrywide branches and to provide a one-stop shop for would-be exporters to the US.

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