James Momanyi @jamomanyi
The government has in the Jua Kali and the small and medium-sized entrepreneurs (SMEs) into the multi-billion affordable housing as one way of promoting local manufacturing and small entrepreneurs.
According to Vocational and Technical Education principal secretary Kevit Desai, the government has developed a master plan that will see local entrepreneurs work hand in hand with investors to put up thousands of housing units across the country.
“For the first time in the history of our country, we have an inter-ministerial agreement that will align the youth and opportunities in the Big Four agenda, especially in the manufacturing and housing programme. The department of TVET together with the Housing department will work as a cluster with the SME sector to built capacity in up scaling technology and innovation for affordable housing. Our focus will be to promote maximum local content and enterprise creation,” he said.
“This will have a huge impact in the economy with SMEs and the Jua Kali sector taking a pie of the windfall from the housing project. In the past we lost out on the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway and other major construction projects. But now going forward, the TVET sector will be involved in every major infrastructure projectto create competence. The government has realised that without opportunities, there will be no value chain,” he added.
The PS said that his department has already engaged the Jua kali sector especially the Kamukunji metal specialists and Ngong Road wood-work artisans to supply some of the materials needed in the housing project.
“They have been producing quality products but do not have opportunities and access to machinery to multiply them. Nthe lack the ability to upscale and new skills and technology needed to grow their businesses. TVET and the housing project will make this accessible. We will help with interns and qualified staff and also allow them use TVET facilities to improve their quality and quantity to supply to the housing scheme,” the PS explained.
“ To industrialise we must take advantage of such opportunities. For the first time, we will create opportunities for the SMEs which are currently locked out of government opportunities.”
His counterpart in Housing and Urban Development Charles Hinga also said the housing project will be a game-changer in the economy.
“Our economic model shows that for every $1 (Sh100.9) spent on the housing project, we will make $3 (Sh302.7). For instance cement will be procured from Kenya. We have also standardised units so whether in Kilifi or Homabay, the size of a door will be the same. We will buy these doors from Jua Kali merchants hence formalising the informal sector,” said Hinga.