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Kenya: EPZ shift to special economic zones begins

Published date:
Tuesday, 06 January 2009

The transformation of the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) programme into special economic zones (SEZs) has begun.

So far, the EPZA board has started a staff organisation study, which will identify gaps and ultimately undertake staff reorganisation in line with Vision 2030 objectives.

The process will in turn see increased investment, employment, tax revenue and the expansion of trade. Trade Permanent Secretary Cyrus Njiru, however, cautions that the positioning of the Authority to perform this new role will require a critical assessment and transformation of the organisation in institutional and human resource capacity.

Motivated staff

"This requires that Kenya addresses weaknesses in the business environment, including infrastructure. We will require motivated, self energised and focused staff to spearhead the new challenge," said Mr Njiru.

Special economic zones are geographic areas with the comparative advantage of a region and seek to exploit the use of resources taking into consideration factors such as infrastructure, labour, logistics and incentives to lure investment.

They are sector specific and have integrated infrastructure. The other steps will involve a legal framework that will not only accommodate the changes, but also align them with modern trading that has changed from the EPZA concept to Dubai’s economic zones.

"We are also working hard to reduce licences for investors and impediments in doing business such as high taxation, among other initiatives. The Government is already reviewing the EPZ Act to align it with the anticipated changes that come with it," said the PS.


It is expected that SEZs will primarily act as a catalyst to rapidly integrate Kenya into various levels of the global supply chain. The Government will also address salaries by enhancing productivity methods.

Noting that the cost of doing business in Kenya has increased in the recent past, various other challenges such as inadequate water supply and high-energy costs are being addressed.

"On water, the Authority will soon be licenced as a water undertaker and on power, we will enhance power production capacity away from the Independent Power Producers who are relatively expensive to sustain," said the PS.

The staff re-organisation exercise, the PS said, has good intentions of creating avenues for growth and development.

"We do not intend to victimise staff. But the exercise will ensure that the organisation adopts the best practices in investment promotion and retention of investment projects," he said.


At the end year, EPZA staff luncheon held in Athi River, the PS announced that Kenya will host the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) forum in August.

"The transformation to special Economic Zones will widen the scope and operations of the Authority, and the forthcoming Agoa forum will therefore provide a good opportunity for Kenya to enhance the visibility of activities taking place in the zones," said Njiru.

He urged the Authority to be innovative and position itself to explore the opportunities provided through Agoa.

"We need to increase our products from the current 12 out of the possible more than 6,000 products that we could export to the USA under the initiative," he said.

The EPZA acting Chief Executive Joseph Kosure said there was a scheme in place to reward staff and attracts others who want to join the EPZA.

He promised to renew staffer’s working contracts, whose working period expires at the end of the year.

"The Authority is also seeking more funding from the ministry in order to offer permanent employment to contractual staff," he said.

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