Nakurus’s quest to regain its previous status as a vibrant industrial hub has received a boost after a multinational animal feeds maker unveiled plans to start operations in Naivasha within the next two years.
In the past two decades, the town experienced a slowed manufacturing activity and a sharp decline of industries resulting in droves of people being rendered jobless with a ripple effect of higher poverty levels.
In an effort to boost the county’s industrial growth, Governor Lee Kinyanjui presided over the signing of an agreement between Maxim Agri International and Oserian Development Company to set up the factory at the latter’s Oserian Two Lakes Industrial Park.
Oserian Two Lakes Industrial Park, renowned worldwide for flower farming, sits on 750 acres of land although it has about 3,000 acres of land that can be used for development.
The upcoming business park has facilities that include a flower business zone, real estate, agro processing industries and related support infrastructure that can support a 20,000 plus population expected to work and live within the Oserian Two Lakes Business Park.
The Maxim General Manager, Muhammad Salman said the firm expected to start operations in January 2021 and will directly offer employment to over 200 people will also be involved in genetic modification, cow comfort products and farm equipment aimed at improved breeds and production and higher returns for farmers.
“Our ultimate aim is to create about 30,000 indirect jobs through the production and value addition chain. Our focus is to produce quality feed geared towards improving productivity of the beef, maize, poultry and pig subsectors,” said Salman.
The establishment of the park was meant to create employment, improve livelihoods, reduce post-harvest losses, ensure food security and accelerate economic growth.
“Oserian Two Lakes has provided us with a great location, reliable and affordable energy and simple turnkey solutions that have removed much of the headache of entering into new territory,” noted Salman.
The Oserian Development Company Finance Director, Tim Ndikwe said two other investors will soon be setting up their facilities at the Park and that negotiations were at an advanced stage.
All these developments are coming at a time when our county readying to be upgraded to a city with Naivasha becoming a dry port after the completion of the Standard Gauge Rail phase II” said Ndikwe.
The Finance Director stated that the Industrial park also integrated strategic infrastructure development, technological and agricultural practice innovation and efficient and sustainable use of natural resources.
The governor said the Nakuru International Investment Conference (NIICO) held last year has started bearing fruits with more companies expressing interest in setting up factories in the County.
“We also invite investors to take advantage of the 1,000 acres of land in satellite along the Mai Mahiu- Suswa Road that has been gazetted as an industrial zone,” he said.
Kinyanjui asserted that his administration will work with other agencies to facilitate potential investors through the establishment of a one-stop shop where they can be issued with the required documentations.
“The county hosted an international investment conference during which investors expressed their confidence to set up their base in various parts of Nakuru,” noted the governor, adding that the county had capacity to provide space at a convenient location for logistics as a way of wooing more investors.
The county is experiencing an influx of mega industries with multinationals as well as government investing billions of shillings to set up manufacturing plants mostly in Naivasha, Gilgil and Rongai and Njoro Sub counties.
A recent survey on the Gross County Product by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics had stunning revelations to the effect that Nakuru is the second biggest economy after Nairobi, ahead of bigger cities of Mombasa and Kisumu.
The county’s 6.1 percent contribution to the economy, second to Nairobi’s 21.7 percent may rise further following ongoing and planned industrial developments expected to create more wealth and employment opportunities.
The turn round of fortunes is a great relief to scores of jobless residents in the County that once hosted mega industries such as Coca Cola’s flamingo bottlers, dry cell manufacturer, Eveready East Africa, the once giant Unga Group, Pyrethrum Board of Kenya, Milling Corporation of Kenya among others.
The situation was further complicated when key government agencies such as Agricultural Development Corporation farms (ADC) Kenya Farmers Association, Kenya Planters Cooperative and Kenya Railways either scaled down operations or collapsed.
However, devolution seems to have come with good fortunes and the situation looks promising once again.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) South Rift Chairman, Jayen Dodhia described the entry of the factories as a pointer to Nakuru becoming the second most preferred investment destination in the country after Nairobi.
Dodhia added that the upcoming factories have an opportunity to shine and succeed if they produce products of unmatched quality to beat competition from plants based in other cities.
By Jane Ngugi