The business community in Nakuru County have commended the government for the promised affordable electricity tariffs because it has the capacity of spurring rural economies and promote cottage industries.
The chairman of small scale traders, Johnstone Ndegwa said power costs make up to 40 per cent of manufacturing expenses in the country, thus the proposed reduction will be a short in the arm for startups, once the benefits are cascaded to consumers.
He said cheaper power would increase innovation and rural small scale industries including value addition, packaging of farm produce and reduce transportation costs.
Speaking during a press conference at his Viwanda office Wednesday, Ndegwa said while big businesses have mitigation tactics for the high power costs such as passing the costs to consumers, installing backup generators, or diversifying, small business simply close down.
In addition, he said development of rural cottage industries was significant to the youth because aging parents cling to land forcing their children to migrate to urban areas in search of work.
However, the chairman said once they lack employment at urban areas they stay idle, abuse drug, alcohol and engage in crime, yet there was great potential in value addition in the rural areas.
The chairman said the vegetable sub-sector was worth millions and yet a lot of them rot at farms during the rainy seasons, when production was much higher than the local demand.
He also said young entrepreneurs could cash in on the growing middle class who are healthy conscious and prefer carrot, cabbage and tomato juices.
At the same time, Ndegwa urged the government to include affordable internet connectivity to spur faster growth of rural areas and reduce movements from rural to urban areas.
He noted that the ever increasing number of hawkers on the streets of Nakuru city was due to lack of amenities in the rural areas and once provided, the menace would lessen.
By Veronica Bosibori