OPINIONPeople Daily

Technology key to the future of manufacturing

Tobias Alando

Current technological advances are creating a new automated age, with recent developments in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. To make proper decisions, investors are now, more than ever, seeking up to date information to map out areas of investments and potential sectors in which they can scale into.

Technological developments have changed the way in which the global market is operating, which means that Kenya, more so the manufacturing industry has to keep up with these trends, in order to attain its contribution of 15 per cent to the economy, as outlined in Vision 2030.

Kenya is considered the leading technology and innovation hub in Africa. The development of a large-scale telecommunications infrastructure in Kenya, capable of delivering efficient and affordable info-communications services is recognised as a critical prerequisite for the country’s economic growth. The availability of such infrastructure is the first step towards competing in the global market.

The second step is creating an environment in which our businesses can integrate and keep up with these technological advancements, in order to understand the new market dynamics, customers’ needs and increase the capability to compete both locally and in regional markets. Kenya’s integration of technology has moved a notch higher.

The government has been keen on streamlining its operations, which has seen some of its services being automated, and accessible to the public. Case in point is the recent launch of the National e-Trade portal, which seeks to provide traders with the necessary rules and procedures on importing and exporting through the help of the National Trade Negotiations Council (NTNC).

In addition, the launch of the Integrated Devolution Data Portal for information sharing between County governments, constitutional implementation bodies, the public and other stakeholders provides a unified space for users to easily identify, retrieve and use devolution information. World Bank’s ease of Doing Business Report ranked Kenya at position 80 this year, moving 12 places up from 2016.

The improvement was attributed to, among other business reforms, payment of taxes and trading across borders. Business reforms on trading across borders are attributed to the integration of technology in the day-to-day activities, ranging from the Single Window System, which allows for the electronic submission of custom entries, as well as the electronic cargo tracking system, which is linked to Kenya Revenue Authority for customs clearance.

On the other hand, an improvement in the payment of taxes is attributed to enhancement of the electronic filing systems. Such investments are critical in attracting local and foreign investors into venturing in our vast markets. To achieve Kenya’s economic goals envisioned in Vision 2030, it is prudent that we integrated the use of technology in the manufacturing sector.

It is for this reason that the Kenya Association of Manufacturers launched a centralised business information portal for manufacturers to increase the sector’s investment competitiveness by providing necessary information.

The portal seeks to provide manufacturers and other key stakeholders with business information on areas such as legal and policy environment and matters that affect Kenyan, East African Community (EAC) and other manufacturers; economic, industrial and trade statistics relevant to the local manufacturing sector and its sub-sectors; business prospects in Kenya and EAC for sourcing and supply markets; and information that is relevant to Kenyan manufacturers from a regional perspective.

The ability to increase Kenya’s investment opportunities, through this portal, is demonstrated by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). CII is India’s business membership organisation for manufacturers, which, through its centralised business information portal, has grown its manufacturing sector by providing its stakeholders with relevant trade information ranging from policy trackers to government notifications.

The CII, through its Global B2B e-commerce market place, has also registered over 35, 000 international buyers, showcasing new trade opportunities for its businesses in the country as well as around the world.

Therefore, the availability of such data in Kenya for local and foreign investors is crucial, as it will provide linkages as well as an understanding of the industry. This will grow the competitiveness of locally made products, regionally and internationally, and ultimately, improve the ease of doing business in the country.

Our sustainability and self-reliance as a nation is only guaranteed through our capacity to be a competitive economy on a global scale, and the use of technology will play a critical role in growing our economy. The writer is the head of membership at Kenya Association of Manufacturers—[email protected]

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