Unilever plans Sh17.4bn plant in Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Unilever Global CEO, Paul Polman who called on him at State House, Nairobi. Photo/PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta with Unilever Global CEO, Paul Polman who called on him at State House, Nairobi. Photo/PSCU 

The consumer goods manufacturer, Unilever plans to invest Sh17.4 billion (€150 million) in a new manufacturing plant in Kenya.

The company's global chief executive officer, Paul Polman told President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi that the planned investment will cater for the manufacturer’s expanding interests in the greater eastern African region, including Ethiopia and Tanzania.

The investment will also result in skill and technology transfer opportunities, as well as job creation for Kenyans, he added.

Mr Polman said Unilever also plans to expand its existing factories in Kericho, to increase tea processing to 50,000 tonnes per year from the current 30,000 tonnes. The company is also working with researchers on how to raise tea yield on Kenyan farms by up to 40 per cent.

Unilever buys as much as 30 per cent of Kenyan teas.

Mr Polman who is on a visit to review his company’s interests called on President Kenyatta in Nairobi Thursday.

Unilever’s Kericho-based tea business has 8,400 hectares of tea bushes and seven factories producing tea for the global market.

Mr Polman appreciated government efforts to enhance efficiency in management and cargo handling at the port of Mombasa. He said due to good infrastructure, his company had identified Kenya as one of the three strategic hubs in Africa, alongside Nigeria and South Africa.

President Kenyatta said the government was committed to remove barriers that impede foreign and local investment as part of the campaign to grow the economy by double-digit.

The President said enhanced efficiency in infrastructure was at the top of government's agenda to attract more investments.

“We will measure the success of the reforms undertaken to improve on efficiency in government by the level of new investments in the country,” he said.

The President said the government’s Second Medium Term Plan, which he launched earlier on Thursday, was aimed at making Kenya the most competitive investor destination south of Sahara.

Government was focused on ensuring affordable, reliable and sustainable supply of energy to stimulate high and sustained economic growth, he said.

“Improvement and expansion of the port of Mombasa, rail and road transport is a priority to my government to reduce the cost of doing business,” the President added.

President Kenyatta said the government was also focused on conservation and expansion of forests in the country. He added that Mau catchment was being conserved with community participation for sustainability.

Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Cabinet secretary Adan Mohammed said there was a flurry of business interest in Kenya, sparked by the country’s prudent management of the economy and pro-business policies.

“Unilever are here for the long-haul and this investment shows that. But there is great interest in our country at the moment and that augurs well for the future of our economy,” said Mr Mohammed at the same meeting.