(Xinhua/NAN) Kenya plans to focus on African exports in order to bridge the trade deficit that is currently estimated at more than 11 billion dollars (1.1 trillion shillings), an official on Wednesday said.
The Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency, Peter Biwott, said this at a validation forum for market and product research for Kenyan exports to Rwanda and Burundi in Nairobi.
Biwott said that the future of Kenya’s international trade lies in Africa and especially after the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“We will support our Kenyan industries to tap into the growing demand for manufactured goods in the continent,” Biwott said.
The survey aims at identifying opportunities in trade for Kenya export products, market requirements, demand trends, market opportunities, strategies of entry and recommendations.
Biwott said that Kenya’s strategic location provides easy access to most eastern, southern and northern African nations, noting that Africa is a key market because it is the biggest destination for the country’s manufactured goods.
According to the export agency, Kenyan industries will have to enhance their competitiveness in order to achieve market access in the continent. (Xinhua/NAN)
Edited by Fatima Sule/Ali Baba-Inuwa
Vertical gardening becomes popular in Kenya amid changing climate, pandemic
From use of soil-less technology to growing plants in ordinary sacks, vertical gardening is taking root in Kenya as land sizes shrink and climatic changes disrupt normal food production.
While citizens with high capital are using soil-less technology to grow food crops inside greenhouses, the common person is growing plants in gunny sacks on their balconies, backyards and in kitchen gardens.
This is happening in both rural and urban areas of the east African nation where land sizes are shrinking faster.
Fruits and vegetables are the most popular plants grown in the vertical gardens, with strawberries, tomatoes, traditional vegetables and collard greens standing out.
In their vertical garden in Nyeri, central Kenya, Vincent Wanjau grows strawberries using soil-less technology that is technically known as hydroponics.
The crops are grown inside greenhouses in plastic pipes filled with coconut husks. The pipes are vertically placed in the structure measuring eight by 15 meters maximizing space.
“We have been using the technology for about two years now to grow the fruits, which are highly marketable in Kenya,” Wanjau said.
“We adopted the technology to beat erratic weather that destroyed our initial crops,” he added.
According to him, sometime in the last quarter of 2018, heavy rains hit different parts of Kenya leading to floods and an extremely cold environment. Their crops were among those that were worst hit by the weather conditions.
“Then we lost about 80 percent of our crops partly due to the floods and blight, a cold-weather disease. It is then that we switched to a greenhouse and vertical gardens,” he said.
When grown directly in the soil, an eight by 15 meters greenhouse can host some 400 plants, but under the vertical system, the same space hosts more than double the plants.
Therefore, using technology, one does not only overcome the effects of climate change that include erratically weather but also gets more yields.
A kilo of the produce goes at 400 shillings (about 3.7 United States dollars) while a 250g punnet at 1.1 dollars.
The soil-less technology, however, is mainly used for commercial purposes but hundreds of other Kenyans are using vertical gardens to produce food for subsistence.
The gardens are made from gunny bags or perforated recycled plastic containers.
“If you have a family of four people, you can comfortably feed from three sacks for months if you have grown vegetables,” said Collins Mutua, a resident of Kitengela who not only grows leafy vegetables in vertical gardens but also fruits like grapes, passion fruits and tomatoes.
Vertical gardens have spread faster in Kenya due to changing environmental and social-economic conditions, said Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro-consultancy.
“One can use sacks, plastic pipes or recycled old tires or plastics bottles. They fill soil inside and grow the crops. The gardens are water-efficient thus families need not struggle maintaining them,” she said.
The government has recognized the importance of vertical gardens in boosting food security thus has embarked on a project to distribute them to a million households across the east African nation as well as train people on how to use them.
Anne Nyaga, the chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, said the initiative launched in May will help boost access to reliable food supply, lifestyle change and adoption of healthy diets, especially during the COVID-19 period.
Kenya seeks to remove roadblocks to ease movement of goods across borders
Kenya has committed to the removal of all roadblocks along the Northern Corridor, a trade route linking the landlocked countries of the Great Lakes Region with its seaport of Mombasa to ease movements of goods and people across the region.
Margaret Mwakima, principal secretary in the State Department for Regional and Northern Corridor Development said on Tuesday Nairobi will also expand and upgrade transport infrastructure to promote intermodal transport for both goods and movement of people to enhance trade in the region.
“There is urgent need to come up with new initiatives to reduce the period track drivers stay at different transit nodes such as border stations, ports, weighbridges and container terminals along the Northern Corridor to fast track movement of goods,” Mwakima told a virtual meeting in Nairobi
The Kenyan official, who chaired the 49th meeting of the Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority Executive Committee, said Kenya has plans to expand and upgrade the northern corridor road networks, inland container depots, construction and refurbishment of ports and oil pipelines.
Marathon star Kipchoge signed as Kenya’s tourism ambassador
The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said Wednesday that it has signed world marathon record holder and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge as magical Kenya destination ambassador.
KTB’s CEO Betty Radier said the engagement, commencing in July, will see Kipchoge promote the east African nation as a preferred tourism destination locally, regionally and internationally through various campaigns.
Kipchoge has won 12 of 13 marathons he has participated in. He is the world record holder with a time of 2:01:39, and the first man to run a sub-two-hour marathon in the special event dubbed INEOS Challenge in Vienna, Austria.
Speaking on his appointment, Kipchoge urged local and foreign visitors to explore and experience what the country has to offer.
“Being Kenyan is a very beautiful thing. I am passionate and love my country dearly, and it is an honor to be working with KTB on projects geared towards propelling Kenya as a preferred tourist destination globally. Kenya has a lot to offer,” he said.
Kenya is home to 60 national parks and reserves, a broad offering of cultural and historic attractions, and over 500km of sunny coastline. It has seen the tourism sector rise to the second-largest foreign exchange earner in the country.
50 entrepreneurs stand out in Jack Ma Foundation’s competition for African “business heroes”
Top 50 finalists have emerged in a Jack Ma Foundation competition that seeks to support African entrepreneurs.
This year’s “Africa’s Business Heroes” prize competition, organized by Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program in Africa, Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, is the second edition after its 2019 debut.
The competition aims to identify, support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their local communities, working to solve the most pressing problems and building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future, according to organizers.
Over a 10-year period, the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative plans to recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating 100 million United States dollars in grant funding and training programs for the broad African entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The top 10 finalists in the competition will share a prize pool of 1.5 million dollars this year and gain access to the initiative’s community of business leaders to leverage its shared expertise, best practice, training and resources.
“With this prize competition, we are looking to inspire and reward African business heroes in all sectors and encourage any aspiring applicants to seize this opportunity to break through barriers and create hope for the future,” said Jason Pau, senior adviser for international programs at Jack Ma Foundation.
Over 22,000 registrations from 54 African countries were received since the launch of the competition on April 6 until the close of the application on June 22, according to the foundation.
The applicants, from a wide range of sectors, are aged between 19 and 82, and the average age of the top 50 finalists is 37, it said.
The 50 entrepreneurs emerging in the first round represent 21 countries across Africa, such as Ghana, Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Kenya, and are from 18 sectors including agriculture, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, business services, construction, education, with female contestants making up the half, the foundation said.
The finalists have introduced “unique” projects in line with the situation of the continent. For example, Abid Khirani from Morocco developed a road safety device attached to the helmet, which is able to notify motorcycle riders of road-related dangers, provide location services, and trigger the emergency procedure and alert family members in case of an accident.
According to the schedule, the top 20 finalists, who will be determined by established business leaders through video-call interviews, will be announced in early August, followed by semi-final pitches in mid-August that will determine the top 10 competitors.
The top 10 are expected to be announced in September after they are selected through in-person pitches with a distinguished and experienced panel of investors, business leaders and professionals, the foundation said.
A final pitch competition show is scheduled to be held at the end of November, when the top 10 finalists will take the stage to pitch business legends, including Jack Ma, to win the share of the prize pool.
Jack Ma created the prize after he made his first trip to Africa in 2017, inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met with.
The Jack Ma Foundation, founded in 2014, has been focusing on education, entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, and the environment.