East African Standard
Saturday, December 20, 2003
President Mwai Kibaki yesterday officially opened the Sh560million Alltex EPZ Limited plant at Athi River.
He was accompanied by the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community and chairman of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED).
The garment manufacturing plant is one of the largest factories in the zone and is expected to employ over 2,000 people.
The company is a venture between Industrial Promotion Services (Kenya) Limited (IPS) and Global Readymade Garments Industry of Qatar.
Kibaki called for increased production of fabric in the country to meet an annual deficit of 100 million square metres.
The President said local demand was 225 million square metres annually while the production stood at 115 million , resulting in the huge deficit.
The President, at the same time, encouraged cotton farmers to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), saying huge opportunities existed in the US under the act. He said the United States imported $9 billion worth of merchandise duty free under Agoa.
He said 30,000 Kenyans had since secured jobs directly related to the scheme while another 150,000 worked in industries that support manufacturing for export through Agoa."
He said Kenya’s garment exports to the United States had gone up from $10 million in 1999 to $200 million this year.
The President, however, decried poor cotton production in the country noting that out of 1.5 million hectares of land suitable for production of cotton, only 3,400 hectares were under the crop.
The Aga Khan said the multi-million shillings investment demonstrated the confidence his Aga Khan Development Network had in Kenya’s economy.
He commended the Government for its privatisation policy which he noted encouraged private sector participation in key sectors such as infra-structure development.
The Aga Khan expressed optimism that the proposed East African Customs Union whose treaty is to be signed early next year will increase investment opportunities in the region.
Present were ministers Mukhisa Kituyi, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, Newton Kulundu, and Joseph Munyao, Attorney-General Amos Wako, assistant ministers Mutua Katuku and Petkay Miriti and area MP Peter Kaindi, among others.
Meanwhile, President Kibaki will today preside over the official opening of the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa. The function is scheduled to begin at 10.30 am.