The Kitui County Textile Centre (KICOTEC) has rolled out a massive skills transfer programme targeted at training community tailors in industrial garment production, says Governor Charity Ngilu.
“This is both a transfer of skills and wealth creation that will enable community tailors in the county acquire professional skills in garment production and also produce quality and affordable Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), hospital linen and school uniforms,” said Governor Ngilu on Monday in Kitui.
She pointed out that her administration intends to expand the supply chain, progressively increase skills development as well as initiating offshoot development programmes around the KICOTEC enterprise.
“This will undoubtedly create more employment opportunities and increase the county’s revenue streams,” noted the Governor.
Governor Ngilu said that with increased revenue from value addition, programmes such as KICOTEC will cushion small scale traders and businesses from paying exorbitant taxes that practically kill their businesses.
With the rise in critical demand for face masks, the center has considerably increased its capacity, creating additional jobs for youth and women in the country amid dwindling jobs cuts nationally as companies shut down.
For this purpose, the requisite raw materials such as cotton, polypropylene and polyester of the desired density are locally available for the mass production of face masks using the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) specifications.
Georgina Musembi, KICOTEC Ag. CEO said that, “KICOTEC has a workforce of over 300 people of which 82 per cent are women and 80 per cent youth, who make surgical and cloth masks that can fit both adults and school going children.”
The workforce is mainly drawn from rural parts of Kitui County, “this resonates well with our Governor’s Development Agenda on Women Empowerment and Youth Development,” said Ms. Musembi.
Governor Ngilu said this move stamps the country’s manufacturing sector as a crucial component in spurring the fledgling economy to the ravages of Covid-19.
At the onset of the confirmation of coronavirus in the country, Governor Ngilu said that fear and panic caused members of the public to purchase and stockpile masks and other PPE supplies depleting the local supply.
The humble beginnings of the textile centre started off as a simple embroidery outfit stitching uniforms before inking a lucrative deal in 2019 to tailor over 6, 000 uniforms for chiefs and their assistants countrywide.
“We will continue to offer capacity building through skill improvement amongst the youth to enable them create jobs opportunities not only for themselves but open avenues for others,” said Governor Ngilu.
She said that the county is no longer relying on consumerism but is now overturning tables in regard to the county’s fortunes and her administration is looking for funds to construct similar textile outfits in Mutomo and Mwingi towns.
“KICOTEC is now offering a paradigm shift for the country’s textile industry by ensuring a ready market for cotton framers locally and beyond. The re-opening of RIVATEX will address the gap of material shortage locally rather than importing,” she said.
By Yobesh Onwong’a