State eyes extra 1,000 hectares EAPCC land for EPZ factories

East African Portland Cement’s factory in Athi River. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The State Department for Investment and Industry is lobbying to hive off 1,000 hectares of additional land owned by the East Africa Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) in Athi River to expand the existing Export Processing Zone (EPZ).

PS Abubakar Hassan Abubakar told the National Assembly’s Committee on Implementation that the ministry is eyeing additional industrial land for the Athi River EPZs.

“This is as a result of envisioned growth once the programme is enhanced, especially on plug-and-play for apparel investors,” he said.

“The Export Promotion Authority Zones (EPZA) target 1,000 hectares of East Africa Portland Cement Company expansive land in the Athi River.”

Mr Abubakar told the committee that the ongoing construction of a new cargo railway link line would spur growth and investment in the area.

He said the ministry has lobbied for funds towards setting up more industrial sheds to facilitate investor entry.

“This will satisfy the demand for industrial space for investors to lease and operate, especially within the Athi River zone,” said Mr Abubakar.

“Investors prefer ready-built industrial sheds as it reduces the cost of operations and turnaround time.”

Mr Abubakar said following the presidential directive for the development of EPZ flagship projects, the EPZA kicked off the construction of four EPZs located in Busia, Uasin Gishu, Kirinyaga, and Murang’a counties.

“The ministry is championing locally advanced farming towards the improved supply of raw materials to agro-processing industries like macadamia, avocado, cashew nuts, coconuts, and other horticultural products, which will increase the backward linkages,” he said.

“This will be a source of livelihood for the majority of Kenyan farmers and will also reduce imports of raw materials.”

The committee chaired by Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala met with the PS on the implementation of the House resolution on a motion sponsored by Dagoreti North MP Beatrice Elachi.

Ms Elachi had demanded that the Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry develop a policy among other things, to address the challenges currently faced by the EPZs, with a specific focus on implementing EPZ programmes to enhance productivity as passed by the House on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

Mr Abubakar said the Ministry has embarked on revising the Export Processing Zones policy for the EPZ program that was established in 1990 through the enactment of the EPZ Act, Cap 517 laws of Kenya.

He said the program was created for the promotion and facilitation of export-oriented investments and the creation of an enabling environment for such investments.

“The comprehensive policy is under development and as this is being done following interventions are undertaken to address the challenges,” Mr Abubakar said.

“Following the directive by the National Assembly in March 2023, the Ministry undertook to review the fiscal and non-fiscal framework for EPZs and address issues of local market access through amendments captured in the Finance Act, 2023.”

Mr Abubakar said the Finance Act, of 2023 requires that goods whose content originates from the customs territory shall be exempt from payment of import duties, and goods whose content partially originates from the customs territory shall pay import duties on non-originating components subject to customs procedures.

He said the Ministry has embarked on a complete overhaul of the EPZ Act through the development of the draft Export Processing Zones Authority Bill, 2023.

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