Increased demand for Kenya-made clothes saw two new export-only factories opened in 2019, with the investors spending Sh600 million on the new facilities.
The new investments helped increase the total amount of funds injected into clothes-making ventures within export processing zones (EPZ) by 3.3 percent to stand at Sh16.7 billion, while operational clothes factories rose to 24.
Latest statistics by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics also show 1,241 new jobs were created, representing a seven percent rise to 49,489 jobs as at the end of 2019.
The rise in clothes exports has been helped by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) that allows duty free sale of Kenya-made clothes to the US.
Last year, apparel exports rose by 10.6 percent from Sh41.6 billion in 2018 to Sh46 billion.
With county governments eyeing new revenue streams from EPZ investments, two new zones were gazetted last year, bringing the total to 74 where 69 are privately owned.
Mombasa leads with 25, Kilifi (10), Nairobi and Machakos six each while Bomet and Kwale have four each. Nakuru and Kiambu have three zones each, with Embu and Nandi boasting of two facilities.
Murang’a, Kajiado, Taita Taveta, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Laikipia, Meru, Narok and Homa Bay have one each.
Garment makers within EPZ zones have, however, decry lack of land for expansion with prices being prohibitive. They say this has hurt efforts to grow Kenya’s position to access bigger markets in the middle East, Europe and the US.
They have also urged Kenya to modernise its clothes-making training institutes by funding upgrading of equipment to include computerised industrial machinery .