Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has become the first institution in the east African region to host an industrial park designed to contribute to Kenya’s growth to a newly industrialized economy within the broad framework of Vision 2030. The multi-million shilling Nairobi Industrial and Technology Park to be located at JKUAT whose construction works is expected to commence in June 2012 will act as an incubator for knowledge based high growth oriented enterprise with the potential to grow to medium level sizes within short periods.
The ball for the initiation of the project to be jointly managed by the Ministry of Industrialization and JKUAT was set rolling through the sealing of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Industrialization PS Dr. Kibicho Karanja and Vice Chancellor Prof. Mabel Imbuga at a ceremony held at JKUAT, Tuesday February 14, 2012 and witnessed by representatives of Higher Education, Science and Technology PS and Director General, Vision 2030.
Dr. Karanja speaking during the occasion said his Ministry had committed a total of Shs. 2.2 billion to the project that he said would be instrumental in the wealth creation agenda under the government’s Vision 2030 plan. Engineer Karanja argued that Kenya had to embrace the culture of industrialization and manufacturing in particular if it hoped to confront poverty and unemployment. “There is no country that can develop without a vibrant manufacturing sector”. The establishment of the Park he said would provide solutions to the many challenges inhibiting the growth of Kenya’s industrial sector.
Dr Karanja said the country last year imported goods and services worth Shs. 900 billion against the country’s export of Shs.400 billion, a situation he lamented that created a trade deficit of Shs. 500 billion. Most of the trade deficit he said was as a result of Kenya’s fixation in exporting raw materials with no value addition. ‘It is only in Kenya where we harvest and export raw tea in sacks. We can reduce the huge trade deficit by adding value to our raw materials through manufacturing’.
His ministry he said was working on a policy paper that would bring together a number of public and private sector payers to address some of the challenges facing the local micro, small and large industries. ‘We have prepared a policy paper now receiving cabinet attention that will bring a number of actors including ; Kenya Industrial Research Institute, Kenya Industrial Property Institute, Kenya Private Sector Alliance, and Kenya Industrial Estate to work together and offer their unique expertise at subsidized cost to promote local industry” . The idea of bringing the conglomerate together Dr. Karanja said was to help provide the core services of intellectual property, finance and technical expertise that was responsible for the collapse of most micro and small scale industrial enterprises in Kenya. ‘Government is considering other incentives like extending of tax rebates to attract large scale foreign and local industries’.
Council Chairman, Eng. Julius Riungu welcomed the establishment of the facility and pledged his Council’s full support saying his board had already set aside 32 acres of land where the park will be constructed.
On her part, the Vice Chancellor said the new project came in handy to support JKAUT’S research advances to foster national development. The park she said would provide an avenue for JKUAT researchers to incubate and commercialize their innovations. The ceremony was also addressed by Dr. Nyanagate Areba and Ms. Ada Mwangola representing the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology and Vision 2030 respectively.