Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mr. Peter Munya Tuesday urged investors to venture into export processing zones (EPZ) enterprises in the country terming it the best investment destination.
Speaking Tuesday during a ground breaking ceremony for the B’Baun, a German pharmaceutical company’s infusion plant at Athi River Export Processing Zones (EPZ), Mr. Munya said the government was committed to creating a conducive environment for doing business.
Munya reiterated that the government was keen to accelerating its strategy of expanding its industrial base by setting up new industries and developing the existing ones.
“My role here is intended to familiarise myself with investments and also facilitate the expansion of the existing ones,” said Munya.
The CS noted that Kenya’s pharmaceutical industry controls over half of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) offering excellent investment opportunities for manufacturers and exporters.
He said that EPZ was committed to supporting manufacturing of goods meant both for export and local markets by ensuring that investors enjoy a 10 year tax exception, tax holidays among other incentive packages.
The CS lauded the newly appointed EPZ board for dealing with the challenges that were slowing down investment in the zones adding that the government is committed to dealing with the challenges investors face.
Munya re-assured investors of the EPZ Authority’s autonomy in controlling its own affairs and resources in an effort to boost investment within the zones.
He further urged consumers to boost Kenya’s manufacturing sector by buying Kenyan products under the “buy Kenyan build Kenyan strategy.”
“The EPZ has to this end created jobs to over 22, 000 and aims to offer employment to 7, 000 more in the next one year,” added Munya.
EPZ Board Chairman Mr. Paul Gicheru noted that the pharmaceutical industry is slowly setting base within the zones which were predominantly synonymous with apparels.
Mr. Gicheru further assured investors that issues of water within the zones are being addressed and that a permanent wall is being erected around the zones to ensure maximum security.
“EPZ will continue supporting the Big Four Agenda. This particular industry is very important especially in Universal Health Coverage,” said Gicheru.
B Baun Managing Director Samuel Muchiri said the plant will be set up at an estimated cost of Sh.11.5 billion.
“It is expected to start its operations early 2020 and will offer employment to 300 employees once it is fully established, “said Muchiri.
The delegation also toured loyal garments industries EPZ Limited which is in the process of expanding its operations within Athi River and will employ an additional 2000 workers.
EPZ which hosts over 106 companies in both the Athi river Zone and other special zones across the country has attracted investors from across the globe.
The processing of pharmaceutical and medical supplies is one of the sub sectors that continues to receive enormous interest in the EPZ programme .Other products include textile and apparels, horticultural and fruit processing and meat processing.
B. Braun is one of the world’s leading providers and manufacturers of healthcare solutions.
In January 2018, Square Pharmaceuticals Limited, a Bangladesh-based company announced a Sh7.5 billion investment that was to see the construction of a local pharmaceutical plant at EPZ Athi River.
Construction of Square Pharmaceutical plant in Kenya come barely a year after the approval of East African Regional Manufacturing Plan of Action 2017-2027 under which national procurement agencies of the East Africa Community member states are required to buy at least half of their medicines locally.
By Rachael Kilonzo