Two new projects totalling USD 2.2 million launched in Nairobi, Kenya, this week by the International Trade Centre (ITC) aim to boost the export of avocado and the information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services (ITES) in the East African country.
The USD 1 million avocado export-promotion project and the USD 1.2 million IT and ITES project will run concurrently through to 2017. The projects are funded by the Dutch Government’s Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI) as part of the ITC-managed Netherlands Trust Fund (III) programme. ITC will implement in co-operation with local partners.
ITC will work with the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), Export Promotion Council (EPC) of Kenya and Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) to build on a blueprint for developing the sector that the business community and the government put together in 2013.
‘The project takes a look at all the drivers of competitiveness in the sector,’ said Anders Aeroe, ITC’s Director for Market Development. ‘It builds the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] in the export sector and farmer groups, helping them to create long term business linkages and technical partnerships to strengthen trade opportunities.’
Zakayo Magara, Managing Director of HCD said: ‘We look forward to the implementation of the strategies identified in the commodity business plan, specifically the enhanced knowledge base of smallholder farmers on good agricultural practices and the new market opportunities expected at the end of the period.’
Rob van Eijbergen, a CBI Special Representative said: ‘The NTF III Kenya avocado project will be a shot in the arm for the agricultural sector as it will help to find new markets for avocado exports. This will help in growing the avocado sector to expand beyond traditional and regional markets to go international. The Royal Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi will be actively engaged in offering support on the ground for the success of this project that will help in creating jobs and improving livelihoods.’
Industry representatives, officials from key trade promotion agencies, SMEs, and farmers’ groups were present at the launch.
With a similar goal of boosting export competitiveness the CBI is injecting USD 1.2 million into Kenya’s information technology (IT) & IT enabled services (ITES) sectors. The project will be a shot in the arm for some 30 local companies, helping them to establish business networks to diversify their export markets. In order to promote women in the IT sector, women-led enterprises will be given special emphasis in project activities. ITC will collaborate with two local partners, the Kenya IT Outsourcing Services (ITOS) and the ICT Authority (ICTA).
Mike Macharia, CEO of Seven Seas Technology Group and director of KITOS said: “Kenya is a leader in ICT in Africa. Since the launch of Kenya’s widely celebrated mobile payment system M-Pesa in 2007, Kenya has been labelled East-Africa’s ‘Silicon Savannah’ and ‘ICT hub’, outshining other African countries.”
Mr. Aeroe, said that he was encouraged by the development opportunities for Kenya in the IT and ITES sectors. ‘There is tremendous growth potential that Kenya can capitalise on by capturing a slice of the global pie in USD 180 billion global IT and ITES outsourcing market. We can help the country to access the international opportunities.’
Eunice Kariuki, Deputy CEO and Director of Innovation and Technology at ICTA emphasized the importance of strong collaboration between ITC and the Kenyan government. ICTA is the implementing agency of Kenya’s national ICT master plan that was developed in 2014.
Esther Muchiri, CEO of Andest Bites and Vice-Chair of KITOS stated that ‘KITOS is privileged to be the partner of choice for the NTF III project which has come at the right time after the launch of the ICT Masterplan. Through the support of the project, particularly the strengthening of SMEs, we hope to see more Kenyan companies providing ICT services in Kenya and beyond’.
Prof Rob van Eijbergen, member of the NTF III Steering Group said that the IT and ITES project would help Kenya to create a market niche to generate employment while building a strong foundation for a knowledge-based economy and skilled workers to support sustainable growth in this dynamic industry.