By Gabriel Onyango
The Buy Kenya Build Kenya movement has been up and running for a while now, but many businesses are yet to benefit. Opportunities are in plenty but only for those who brand themselves alongside ‘Kenyan made”. In addition, there exists legal provisions, favoring local businesses in public procurement.
The Buy Kenya Build Kenya is an initiative with the main goal being to promote consumption of locally produced products. Its appeal is that in buying local products, consumers are indirectly providing employment and growing the country’s economy.
The initiative is noble but needs to be a balanced act. Otherwise, partner countries could interpret it as trade hostility. “We need to be careful such that we don’t get to a point, where, for instance; Uganda thinks, since you are advocating for ‘buy Kenya’, we will also go the ‘buy Uganda’ route,“ said Mr. Mucai Kunyiha, Kenya Association of Manufacturing Director.
During the Kenya Manufacturing Expo 2017, Karen Kandie, Capital Director, Industrial Development Bank (IDB) told an interesting story. IDB funded the first local supplier of the cement poles currently used by Kenya Power and Lighting.
The supplier is an engineer by profession, and had gone to India for a few days, to learn about the pole making technology. On coming back, he approached the Industrial Development Bank, and secured financing to procure the pole-making machine. How? “He came and told us that he was an engineer. Showed that he had learned the technology from India and that he could get the market for the poles. So we funded him.” Says MS Kandie.
The Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) procures up to 80 percent of its materials locally. Presently, they buy electricity meters from five Kenyan companies, transformers from three companies while electricity poles are 100 percent locally sourced.
The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 provides that for goods below sh500 million, procuring entities should source from local suppliers. However, since the law is not clear on the origin of materials, these local suppliers still import them (which beats the purpose of ‘buy Kenya’).
Even in cases where the government has contracted a foreign firm for a job. The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act still gives preference to local manufacturers requiring foreign bidders to source 40 percent of the materials used and 40 percent of workers locally.
From a branding perspective, the ‘buy local’ campaign has been used extensively across several countries, UK, America etc. The products usually contain a call to action with messages such as; buying this product supports local farmers appealing to the buyer’s sense of patriotism.
However, beyond singing Buy Kenya Build Kenya, we should provide consumers with a reason to prefer Kenyan made products. If consumers want quality, affordability, or great customer service-give it to them. Make them proud and able to identify with local products and we will get people to buy Kenya.