The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) has lauded the entry of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the East African Community (EAC) terming it as a win for the region from a trade perspective.
Speaking during an engagement forum between exporters and the county government of Mombasa, Peter Ochieng, director Research and Innovation at KEPROBA alluded that exports have experienced exponential growth with markets being very protective especially after recovering from the advent of the ravages of COVID-19.
“The balance of trade has increased at an astronomical rate and for us to bridge that balance of trade we must ensure we increase our exports,” said Ochieng.
“In the last one year we have experienced a 15 per cent growth from 2020 to 2021. The African continental market is integrated and this is the most proximate market absorbing most of our products. From Textile, Pharmaceutical products to fast moving consumer goods. We also understand construction efforts are going on in Africa, these are markets we need to bring to the attention of local producers and manufacturers to try and explore” added Ochieng.
He also noted that it was a major concern by the government that the cost of production is rising and is highly compromising Kenya’s competitiveness. This in turn has prompted the government to come up with various mitigating initiatives including creation of special economic zones so that those producing purely for export can do so within a secure environment – reduced licensing requirements, subsidies in taxation among other measures. This will ensure products perform at a very competitive level at the global scale.
The introduction of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the East Africa Community (EAC) is a big boost to the region as it is one of the markets that is receptive to every product Kenya produces. A top importer of Pharmaceutical products, Construction material and most recently service consumer products with Equity bank one of the leading lenders in the country buying one of the biggest banks in the DRC and are now key players in the financial sector in the DRC.
“For a long time the Northern corridor has been a preferred transit route for DRC and they have given us a lot of resources by using the Northern corridor and the port of Mombasa so their coming into the EAC brings good tidings because most of our products will access that market on preferential basis including reduced taxes and duties.” Said Ochieng.
Cyprian Oloo of Vital healthcare, a medical equipment exporter, attributed some of the major challenges faced by exporters to include punitive taxation measures, inflated cost of production and exportation.
“Some of the tax regime measures should be mitigated by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to ensure that the producers and exporters from the country are well shielded to increase productivity,” said Oloo.
The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) is a state corporation that was created in 2019 as a result of an amalgamation of the export promotion council and the Brand Kenya Board. It is mandated to brand Kenya and Kenyan products as well as promote Kenyan exports to the global markets.