The Devki Steel Mills Ltd has opened a Sh50 billion state-of-the-art raw steel production factory, one of the largest in East and Central Africa, in Samburu-Chengoni ward, Samburu Sub County of Kwale.
The steel mill facility which is envisaged to employ thousands of local youths in the steel manufacturing industry has the latest machinery to produce virgin steel in the country.
It will be the second-best facility after South Africa on the African continent to produce virgin steel from iron ore.
This type of production requires no mixing and produces superior quality wire rods and steel billets.
The modern integrated steel plant is expected to revive the iron and steel industry and drive infrastructure, manufacturing and affordable housing development projects that will transform the lives of millions of Kenyans.
President Dr. William Ruto inaugurated the Devki Integrated Steel Plant at an elaborate ceremony attended by a retinue of Cabinet Secretaries, area Governor Fatuma Achani and a host of local leaders led by Kinango MP Gonzi Rai.
During the launch, the President flagged off a goods train with a consignment of locally manufactured wire rod coils at the newly commissioned Devki Steel Mills.
The Devki Group Chairman Narendra Raval noted the factory has the capacity to produce 500,000 tonnes of steel annually and is connected to the metre-gauge railway, lowering transport costs to other parts of Kenya and the region.
Raval says the project in the long run is expected to generate 2,500 direct and 9,000 indirect jobs for local youths drawn from Kwale and the neighbouring counties of Mombasa, Kilifi and Taita Taveta counties.
The Devki Group Chairman says the raw steel factory will operate blast furnace technology for main steel manufacturing using internally generated power supplemented by the supply from the national grid to help reduce electricity costs associated with the energy-intensive steel sector.
Peter Paul, Managing Director (MD) Devki Steel says 700 youth from Kwale among them senior employees like engineers are already working in the company.
“The new steel project aligns with our vision to provide Kenyans with the best quality products that uplift local standards and compete against imported products,” said the MD.
The new steel plant will have continuous casting and hot strip capacity, cold rolled coil capacity, a tin plate line, and two direct reduced iron (DRI) plants.
“We hope to create an integrated steel plant that will be a centre of manufacturing excellence,” Paul said, adding that they have been associated with various aspects of the steel business over the years.
He says the group flagship, Devki steel, is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of value-added steel products in Kenya.
To spur the local manufacturing industry Trade, Investment and Industry Cabinet Secretary, Moses Kuria, says as from January next year the government will ban the importation of raw materials available in Kenya and products being manufactured in the country to protect local investments.
Kuria says the largest steel company provides impetus for economic growth and resuscitation in the country, and the new plant in Kwale is the first step towards achieving this.
He says the steel mill factory, billed as the second biggest in Africa after one in South Africa, is expected to boost the construction sector by cutting the cost of building materials.
The Trade CS used the occasion to urge local and foreign investors to take advantage of the conducive environment to invest in the country for business growth.
“The government is committed to assure investors of a good investment climate,” he said, adding that the country is open for business.
Steel companies have also benefited from the wider East African Community (EAC) and COMESA markets.
Steel made by Kenyan companies is sold in Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Top Kenyan steel dealers include Athi River Steel Ltd, Brollo Kenya Ltd, Devki Steel Mills Ltd, Accurate Steel Mills Ltd, Elgo Steel Fabricators Ltd, Iron Africa Ltd and Simba Products Ltd.
But Devki Steel Mills Limited has diversified and grown over more than two decades into the largest multi-product steel manufacturer in Kenya commanding a market share of over 50%.
Area Governor Fatuma Achani said her administration is committed to creating an enabling environment for current and potential investors for them to continue choosing Kwale as their destination of choice for investments.
Achani has assured investors that the county government has created a good environment for investments.
The Governor said as a devolved unit they will work closely with the management of Devki Steel Mills to ensure the new project benefits the residents.
“We thank Devki steel for investing in Kwale and giving employment priority to our local youth,” she said.
By Hussein Abdullahi