President Uhuru Kenyatta has reaffirmed his government’s support for local and international companies investing in local manufacturing as this will accelerate the Big Four Pillars for inclusive growth.
He said the private sector has a pivotal role to play in the country’s quest to create more jobs for Kenyans and improve Kenya’s competitiveness in the global economy through a robust manufacturing sector.
Mr Kenyatta spoke when he met with Victoria Mars, board member and immediate former chairperson of Mars Incorporated, who paid him a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi.
He commended Mars’ subsidiary Wrigley for its continued commitment to investing in Kenya; most notably the Sh7 billion factory in Athi River.
Once in operation, the factory will produce 7.8 billion pellets of chewing gum annually thereby raising the market share in Kenya to 75 per cent.
The new facility is scheduled to be opened later in the year.
The facility in Kenya is the only one in Africa serving East African countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Mr Kenyatta said his government would continue to improve the country’s environment to do business.
He called on the company to take advantage of the recently adopted agreement to establish a continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) to increase its production to serve African countries.
President Kenyatta also commended the company for its initiative in Mt Elgon where it is supporting 20,000 dairy farmers.
Ms Mars briefed the President on various initiatives undertaken by the company to expand its operations in the region and provide social and economic opportunities for Kenyans; including an entrepreneur program, Maua which currently has over 700 entrepreneurs.
He said the new factory would not only create jobs but also provide opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises through its expanded value chain.
Ms Mars assured the President that Wrigley and its global parent firm Mars Inc. is committed to working with the government and being a part of Kenya’s increasing presence as a manufacturing hub in Africa.
“Your goal to boost local manufacturing capacity is timely and offers a great opportunity to expand employment and job creation for Kenyans, while cementing the country’s position as a key industrial hub in Africa. Wrigley is keen on growing and developing our business here and contributing to this noble objective,” she said.
She added that Mars was actively supporting many social and economic initiatives to expand employment and business opportunities for Kenyans especially in low-income and rural areas.
Key sectors of engagement include agriculture, through the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming as well as the Ethical Tea Partnership; working closely with the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
Also present were Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Adan Mohammed and senior government officials.