Local foundry experts have attributed the sectors’ stagnated growth in Kenya to “extremely high costs of running the business” majorly due to over-reliance on imports, external expertise and non-existent government incentives despite its immense potential in generating millions of shillings and creating multiple jobs.
“I recently bought a small foundry pyrometer which merely weighs a few grams at a cost of Ksh. 500, 000 but even then its calibration has to be done in Germany,” lamented Mr. Lawrence Nduto of East African Foundry Works.
The metal and steel industries are considered the backbone of economic activities of any given country. The per capita steel consumption is an internationally recognized indicator of the level of economic development of a country.
However, in Kenya, the experts noted that besides the high costs of levy on imports and inflated costs of electricity, the industry is also struggling with low capacity with “less than three recognized foundries countrywide”.
The experts were speaking at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) when they attended the 1st foundry training workshop held between November 13-15, 2019.
Mr. Nduto pointed out that another area of major concern was the frequent power cuts which cause major losses as most of the raw materials, he says, are destroyed when the procedures are not completed during casting of various metals.
While welcoming the participants to the training, the organizer of the workshop who is also a don of mining at JKUAT, Mr. Seroni Anyona, urged universities to showcase their prowess in problem solving abilities by taking on the problems in the sector and providing long-term solutions.
“Institutions like JKUAT should encourage Master of Science students to undertake thesis in problematic areas in foundry such as waste disposal in order to solve some of these key challenges,” said Mr. Seroni.
Prof. Bernard Rop, also a guru in mining said JKUAT was keen on collaborating with all the interested foundry practitioners through signing of a memorandum of understanding to ensure that the industry’s challenges are collectively handled.
The Principal of JKUAT’s College of Engineering and Technology, Dr. Hiram Ndiritu, who officiated the opening ceremony on behalf of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua, expressed his gratitude to Prof. Adel Nofal, Foundry specialist and the guest trainer from Metallurgical Research and Development Institute (CMRDI) in Egypt saying his experience will inject much needed experience geared towards establishing a sustainable dynamic programme to address the challenges in the specialization.
Dr. Ndiritu said the University’s long term objective was to establish a Center of Excellence in collaboration with CMRDI and the local industry players who are offering training in Welding, Foundry, Material Sciences and other related sciences and skills, and therefore, contributing to the Government’s Big 4 Agenda and the country’s Vision 2030.
Other participants were drawn from; Numerical Machining Complex, Match Electricals, Kenya Association of Manufacturers.