Corporates Kenya

PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY FOR MSMEs PARTICIPATION IN THE 23RD EAC MSMES TRADE FAIR TO BE HELD IN BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI

MSEA DG Henry Rithaa

Preparations are in high gear for the 23rd Edition of the East African Community (EAC) Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fair, formerly known as the Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi Exhibition. The 23rd annual EAC Trade Fair will be held from 5th – 15th December 2023 at Cercle Hyppique grounds in Bujumbura, Burundi under the theme “Connecting East Africa MSMEs to enhance Intra EAC Trade,” and is expected to draw over 1500 MSMEs in trade, manufacturing, agribusiness and services sectors from the seven (7) EAC Partner States. Since its inception, the annual EAC exhibition has brought together MSMEs from the then East Africa’s six partner nations (now seven) to expand their reach into new markets, share new technologies, and strengthen regional integration. About 5,000 Kenyans have benefited from this trade fair, with a majority having established a solid presence in the regional market through consistent supplies.

The EAC market size (300 million people) and GDP (approximately US$250 billion) have a significant impetus to the push to increase Intra-EAC trade, especially given that the EAC region now stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, making it competitive and easy to access the larger African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The existence of the EAC Common Market Protocol and EAC Customs Union has eliminated or significantly reduced tariffs and trade barriers. The EAC has also harmonized customs procedures among member states thereby significantly simplifying trade processes between member states.

Speaking during the commissioning of the National Organizing Committee for the trade fair, the Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Cooperatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Hon. Simon Chelugui, EGH said that the Trade fair will present an opportunity for over 300 Kenyan MSMEs to create business linkages for increased trade. “This trade fair will not only avail a forum for showcasing what Kenya has to offer to the regional market but also play a leading role in facilitating trade and business exchanges among participating countries while at the same time offering an exciting platform for launching new and improved technologies targeting both

the local and regional markets. Burundi is a virgin market with immense unexploited opportunities and I encourage Kenyan MSMEs to take advantage of the excellent relations between the two countries to establish a foothold and exploit the emerging opportunities in terms of trade and investment. Possible areas of investment include the following: Agro-processing; Education; Health and medical; Finance and banking; Energy; Light Manufacturing, and the construction industry which aligns with the government’s,” said CS Simon Chelugui.

Over the past 5 years, the volume of Kenyan exports to the EAC region has amounted to $1.4 Billion. The National Export Development and Promotion Strategy envisions to increase this by ensuring that 60% of Kenya’s manufactured products will be exported to the regional and global markets. This will grow the Country’s export target by 25%. This comes at a time when Kenya’s exports are projected to rise by 15% this year compared to the $6.08B recorded in 2021 due to increased sales to new African countries upon the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). According to the Africa Trade Barometer index, Kenya is amongst African countries with the highest share of intra-Africa trade. Africa accounted for 19.14 per cent, or Sh328.70 billion, of Kenya’s Sh1.72 trillion total trade value in the January-June 2023 period.

Speaking at the same event, Principal Secretary State Department for MSMEs Susan Mang’eni said that the Government is keen on leveraging on international markets to create market linkages between producers, aggregators/off-takers and the final consumers. “The Government is keen on leveraging on Kenya’s international engagements to create opportunities for its citizens, businesses and investors. Towards this end, the Government is implementing the export-growth strategy which calls for the Nation to develop goods that meet the needs and requirements of regional and international markets.” Said PS Susan Mang’eni.

The adoption of the EAC customs union has significantly increased the volume of commerce between Kenya and the other member countries. Kenya Exports to Burundi stood at US$68.69 Million during 2021, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.

Speaking during the commissioning of the National Organizing Committee, Director General Micro and Small Enterprises Authority Mr. Henry Rithaa said, ‘‘The Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA) is pleased to spearhead and coordinate Kenya’s participation at the EAC MSMEs Exhibition and Trade Fair. The Authority is confident that this event will give an ideal platform for promoting diversified Kenyan brands, testing newly created technologies, and improving Kenya’s business presence in Burundi and neighbouring countries as part of the enlarged East Africa Community trading bloc. The Authority is further collaborating with agencies represented in the National Organizing Committee to create forward linkages for participating MSMEs post-event. This includes developing a framework to support the linkage of farmers/small-scale MSMEs with Priority Value chain processors through sub-contracting and expanding the catalogue of the Authority’s Digital Marketing platform.’’

The Multi-sectoral National Organizing Committee will vet participating MSMEs and their products to ensure the image of Kenya and the sector is well represented through high-quality products and services. To participate in the Exhibition, Kenyan exhibitors are required to register at the nearest MSEA office or at https://msea.go.ke/wpcontent/uploads/2022/04/MSEA-Regional-Offices.pdf

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