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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H.

,
PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF
THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF ORIGIN
AFRICA EVENT AT HOTEL INTERCONTINENTAL, NAIROBI, 10TH
NOVEMBER, 2014

Distinguished Investors,
Fellow Kenyans,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation [ACTIF] in
conjunction with Trade Fairs Consulting for organizing this Event focusing on
Africas Textile Industry.
Its noble objective is to raise the awareness of Africa as a place to do business,
sourcing destination, changing perceptions, and making the value chain in the
continent more visible as a source of supply of cotton, textile and apparel
products for the domestic, regional and international buyers. This trade fair is
expected to foster cooperation rather than competition between the exhibitors
with the ultimate goal of promoting both local and international investors. The
trade fair is aimed at creating a friendly business environment in Africa.
One of the most puzzling paradoxes over the last decade is that Africa has
benefited from unprecedented growth while a large part of its population
remained trapped in economic poverty, facing rampant unemployment and
inequality. Africans still depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and thus
enhancing its performance is central to sustainable poverty reduction. Beyond
increased agricultural income, effects on the wider economy of a more
prosperous agricultural sector include strengthened linkages and greater
demand for industrial products.

Cotton Textile and apparel sector value is labour-intensive and therefore key in
addressing the unemployment and inequality challenges among our youth.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Africas trade is constrained by low export diversification and heightened
dependence on primary products. This is the reason why Africas commodity
and investment driven expansion has not created the jobs to meet its growing
young population. This growth path has left the continent vulnerable to
external commodity prices, demand shocks and internal weaknesses.
Decent jobs and steep poverty reduction hinge on diversifying the economy

from low-productivity agriculture and informal sectors to high-productivity


sectors such as manufacturing and modern services. Industrialization is thus a
precondition for Africa to achieve inclusive economic growth.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are at a point in history when the tide is changing, positioning Africa for a
major economic take-off through industrialization. Africa is increasingly
becoming an attractive investment destination driven by expanding middle
income population, improved economic management, discovery of extractive
resources and a relatively young energetic workforce that can enable the
continent reap the demographic dividends. Coupled with these favourable
opportunities there is also rising cost of operations in the traditionally low cost
countries of Asia.

As investments flow from these locations, Africa will be their natural home.First
movers in creating an enabling environment on the Continent will be the
winners.
In this regard, Kenya wants to be among the first movers in Africa by creating
an enabling environment to attract investment. My Government seeks to
position Kenya as the continents' manufacturing and technology hub, the
preferred gateway to Africa for foreign investors and a home to a thriving army
of local entrepreneurs.

We therefore need to attract more investments and take full advantage of


growing demand of manufactured goods being experienced in the Region and
beyond, including garments. These are in line with the aims of the 'Kenya
Vision 2030' which seek to transform Kenya into an upper middle income
economy driven by industrialization.
We are fully aware that achieving this goal demands that we lower the cost of
doing business.

In this regard, my Government has put in place an elaborate programme to


make Kenya's business sector more productive and globally competitive.

Some of the initiatives include the 40-month programme to inject over


5000MW of electricity into the National Grid; reduce the cost of power by over
40% by end of this calendar year; fast track the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)
project and the 10,000km road infrastructure through an innovative financing
model.

The textile and clothing sector is one of the key priority areas which my
Government has targeted for job creation. The sector is capable of creating at
least 200,000 jobs in the next 24 months and we want to go full blast in
exploiting this potential by addressing the challenges affecting the sector
including high energy costs and lack of market access amongst others.
We also want to take advantage of the global market through AGOA, the EU
and other emerging markets to aggressively grow the Textiles sector. To do this
we must build a compelling value proposition. My Government is at the
forefront in championing for this sector. Just two days ago, we opened a new
apparel factory in Mombasa that will create nearly 10,000 jobs for our youth
and women.

We are confident that the measures we are putting in place will make Kenya
and the entire East African Region, a compelling investment destination for
textile and apparel sector. It is worthy to note that over the last year Kenya did
well as an apparel exporter and now holds the first position as sub-Saharan
Africas largest apparel exporter to the USA under African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA) having exported 83 million pieces valued at US$ 336
million. This is indeed a remarkable achievement and the country has proven
that there is potential for more.
My Government has put strong emphasis in revitalization of the Cotton Textile
Apparels sub-sector and will spare no efforts in addressing the concerns facing
companies in the sector including at the export processing zones.Some of
these include cotton production, inadequate industrial space, high energy
costs, logistical challenges and others that am confident to inform you
considerable progress has made to address them.
In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is gratifying to note that this event has
attracted nearly 300 investors from 32 African countries including Partner
States of East African Community.

Having gone through the exhibition booths, I have witnessed a lot of creativity
and innovation that demonstrate our preparedness to globally integrate and
compete as a serious and preferred sourcing continent of cotton, textile
products and fabrics, for international buyers.

I have no doubt in my mind that through this event we have put Africa on the
map as a preferred sourcing continent in the Cotton Textile and Apparels sector.

We must not relent but tirelessly work towards sharing the positive things we
are doing that will contribute to changing perceptions and building synergies

about doing business with Africa.This requires


partnerships between the public and private sector.

concerted

efforts

and

I wish to encourage this partnership to be nurtured for the benefit of all,


businesses, Governments and citizens.
It is now my great pleasure to declare the Origin Africa Event officially opened.

Thank you and God Bless You.