The World Bank has described manufacturing jobs in Kenya as “mediocre”- an assertion that challenges the country’s ambitious plan to create over a million new jobs by 2022.
The global lender, in a new report, casts a shadow on Kenya’s attempt at overtaking Ethiopia in creating over 600,000 jobs in the textile and apparel value chain.
According to the report, Kenya’s poor performance in job creation has been due to a decline in market share- a situation that contributed to a poor Global Value Chain (GVC) job growth.
“Kenya, Senegal and South Africa all lost market share, depressing GVC job growth”, according to the report.
Even more telling, is how Ethiopia has been able to widen its lead against Kenya in the production of garments as Addis Ababa fashions itself as a hub for apparel production in the region.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has since earmarked textile and apparel as low-hanging fruits in the job-creation pillar under the Big Four agenda.
To this end, President Kenyatta recently commissioned a revamped Rivatex textile company in Eldoret, expected to create over 3,000 direct jobs.
There are also plans to breathe life into the defunct Kisumu Cotton Mills (Kicomi) as part of the President’s objective to shore up the share of manufacturing to national output (gross domestic product) to 15 per cent from the current 9 per cent.
However, Kenya will have to beat Ethiopia first. The neighbouring country has been attracting most of the textile and apparel investors with its cheap power and labour as well as other government incentives such as free land.
From 2000 to 2014, Ethiopia’s GVC share of textile has increased from 2.46 per cent to 2.99 per cent, according to the study by the World Bank, which compares the production of GVC goods in 11 countries.
Kenya’s share has declined by over a percentage point from 1.66 per cent to 0.65 per cent even as the country has specialised more in food production.
While almost all of the three African countries assessed – Ethiopia, Kenya and Senegal – stand out as being specialised in delivering value-added to food GVCs.
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