Kenyans need to make good choices. Now. To save themselves.
It is as simple as that.
Let me state from the outset. Kenyan manufacturers need to be price & quality competitive. This is not a choice for them. They need to give Kenyans value.
For those who cry 'protectionism', I am NOT advocating tariff barriers or quotas or subsidies. I do encourage additional (non-monetary i.e. subsidies) incentives for Kenyan firms like better roads/infrastructure, staff training, lower tax rates, etc.
Your local Nakumatt (or Tusky or Uchumi or grocer) stocks too many foreign goods esp foods. Kenya is an agricultural country. We need to become a major agro-processor as well.
Baked Beans (I like Baked Beans on Toast)
Kenylon (Kabazi Canners of Kenya) manufactures baked beans but it seems Heinz (imported from the UK via Dubai) seems to has a larger display. There are other local brands BUT the imported brands dominate.
So why does Kenya need to import baked beans?
If Nakumatt sells 100,000 cans of Heinz beans (89/-) per month, that would 'save' Kenya $1,200,000 (Kes 100,000,000) annually. 'Save' above means reduce the need for forex to fund imports. I am assuming retail margins of 10%
KShs 100 mn paid to Kabazi means a good portion goes to local farmers, factory workers, other local manufacturers & transporters. And this gets recycled into the local economy as these 'beneficiaries' buy other local goods.
Butter & Cheese
Why does Kenya import butter from New Zealand via Dubai?
KCC, Brookside, Daima, etc has great milk products. We export to the middle east, so why do we import these? We used to import milk products from China. Why?
Kenyan farmers will increase production IF we reduce imports thus boosting local demand.
I am amazed that Kenya imports crisps, chocolates, biscuits, cereals, chevda (among other Indian snacks), etc
Kenyans produce great products so why the need to import???
Crisps - Krackles, Tropical Heat, etc
Chocolates - Cadburys, Out of Africa (though most ingredients are imported)
Biscuits - House of Manji (the best Digestives), Brittania
Cereals - Weetabix (local), Procter & Allan, etc
Indian snacks - Tropical Heat, Deeps, etc
Kenyan products in this category are generally cheaper than the imports yet we blow away forex & the creation of local jobs.
Why do Kenyans buy 'prepared foods' when we can hire or buy freshly prepared foods locally. As for convenience, there are local firms & SMEs in the market.
Juices/Squashes (fruit drink mixes)
Why don't Kenyans buy more locally produced juice or juice blends or even fruit drink mixes.
There are many local players in this market including:
Del Monte (locally grown pineapples)
Quencher (mainly fruit drink mixes)
And even when we import juices, why not just concentrates that can be re-constituted & packed in Kenya.
And why not drink FRESHLY SQUEEZED juices. Creates jobs for maids, hotel/restaurant workers, etc. Kenyan 'fruit juice' businesses need to lower prices for freshly squeezed juices. I miss the fresh fruit carts in Nairobi's CBD. I could get a juicy slice of pineapple for a mere 10/-.
I know Kenyan spirts leave little to the imagination but there is hope. Let's by more EABL, Keroche & London Distiller products.
There are few local wines (Mara is imported from S.Africa). Locally produced wines should attract lower taxes. There are other fruit wines that can be produced from locally grown fruits including:
- Passion fruits (I recall passiflora but too dry for my tastes)
- Mango (Has anyone tried?)
- Pineapples (I used to brew a weak version)
- Sugarcane (Rum)
I buy the local Kenya Gold (instead of the imported Baileys) & the local Smirnoff (vs imported vodkas).
And the above is a small sample of the imports. We could 'save' at least $100,000,000 in forex annually if we looked inwards. Add the jobs Kenya could create & the Global Financial Crisis would look less daunting.
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