Iron and Steel industry has over time been swept under the rug, gaining little or no recognition while earning its casual laborers, a majority who work in the Jua Kali sector, a rather meager income.
This happens despite the fact that steel is poised as the backbone of the economic activity of any country, and an internationally recognized indicator of the level of development of any country.
More to its detriment, the local steel industry is heavily dependent on imported raw materials, as no local sources have been developed to date.
It is estimated that the country spent about Sh. 97 billion on importation of steel in 2018 against export of Sh. 12 billion, a Ministry of Industry, Trade and Corporation report states.
However, Ms Betty Maina, the Principal Secretary, State Department of Industry notes that this import bill can be reduced if high quality steel is produced locally.
In her unveiling of the government’s plan to get the Iron and Steel industry on its feet at a marketer’s breakfast, Ms Maina highlighted her docket’s willingness to facilitate investments among other measures.
“The government’s strategies to promote the sector include: Readiness to facilitate investments in commercial exploitation of iron and coal deposits in the country, enactment of the Mining Act 2016 to guide and regulate the mining sector, conducting a feasibility study on Iron ore and Coal deposits, developing a framework for public private partnership and setting up a Scrap Metal Council to regulate the scrap metal industry which is important in the sector,” read Ms Maina’s speech.
The Iron and Steel Marketers breakfast meeting was also attended by Nairobi County’s executive for Roads, Public Works and Transport, Hitan Majevdia, who emphasized on public and private partnerships.
Majevdia observed that by identifying the mutual interests between different players in the industry, “we can enter partnerships and pull resources to work towards the same goals, achieving greater impact than if we were undertaking individual initiatives.”
The Iron and Steel Marketers Breakfast was a first of its kind in the country and brought together private and public companies in the industry, in a bid to address the challenges, investment opportunities and trends in Iron and Steel.
It was made possible by Iron and Steel Africa Review, an organization that is poised to be the first to tell the untold stories of the vast industry through event organization and magazine publications.
By Alice Gworo