KBC - Kenya Broadcasing Corp.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
7:57:01 AM E.A.T

Kibaki calls for increase in fabric production

By PPS President Mwai Kibaki has called for increased production of fabric in the country to meet an annual deficit of 100 million square metres.

The President said the fabric demand by Kenya's 30 million people was 225 million square metres annually while the production stood at 115 million square metres resulting in the huge deficit.

President Kibaki was speaking at the export processing zone (EPZ) Athi River where he inaugurated the Alltex EPZ apparel manufacturing plant.

The President at the same time encouraged cotton farmers to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act(AGOA) of the United States of America saying huge opportunities existed in the U.S. under the act.

He said the United States imported nine billion dollars worth of merchandise duty free under AGOA.

Since the commencement of AGOA he added, "30,000 Kenyans held jobs directly related to AGOA while another 150,000 work in industries that support manufacturing for export through AGOA."

He went on to say Kenya's garment exports to the United States had gone up from 10 million dollars in 1999 to 200 million dollars this year.

The President however decried the low levels of cotton production in the country noting out of 1.5 million hectares of land suitable for production of cotton only 3,400 hectares were under the crop producing 3,500 tonnes.

President Kibaki however pointed out the government had taken appropriate action to reverse this trend noting a bill to address the industry is being prepared and will soon be tabled in parliament for debate.

In addition he added, "the government is actively supporting negotiations with the United States Congress towards extending the AGOA trade scheme beyond its current expiry date of January 2005 by seven years."

The President commended the Aga Khan fund for economic development for its commitment to Kenya noting its interests went beyond investments for profits.

In his address, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, His Highness The Aga Khan said the multi million shillings Alltex EPZ apparel manufacturing investment demonstrated the confidence his Aga Khan Development Network has in Kenya's economy.

He commended the government for its privatization policy which he noted encouraged private sector participation in key sectors such as infrastructure 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.