Is Kitui Kenya’s Next Industrial Hub?

The MADE IN KENYA narrative that aims at producing goods locally is not possible without building industries to process and manufacture what we consume. This year in the devolution conference 2021, various counties had exhibition booths where they showcased produce from local industries with the aim of mobilizing support from partners and expanding markets for their locally made goods. For counties with something to showcase, the conference is a huge platform to let their local industries known. Kitui County is one of the counties that has a variety of locally made goods gaining market acceptance thanks to the devolution conference.

Kitui County through partnerships with private investors and other government agencies is shaping up to be Kenya’s next industrial hub outside of Nairobi metropolitan area and traditional white highland regions as mapped by the British colonial government. Two of the most prominent companies in the Kitui’s industrialization story are Kitui County Textile Centre (Kicotec) and the Kitui Pharma Industry. Musyi Development and Tecnofin Limited have also formed a joint venture to construct 2,000 housing units in Kitui County. There are other investors who are developing interest in Kitui County thanks to a demonstrated commitment by the county’s leadership to promote industrialization in its rural and urban centers.

Industrialization in Kitui county cuts across from food and leather processing to construction and tourism. The county government is building a 30.9-acre Kalundu Eco Park in Kitui whose amenities will include a dry-land beach, a floating restaurant, kayaking and jet skiing. Some of the produce of Kitui County include locally brewed wines, honey, yogurt, fumigants, hand sanitizers, hand wash, methylated spirits, sporting balls and livestock products.

The making of an industrial hub requires huge investment into energy supply, capital goods such as machinery for processing raw materials, moving equipment such as trucks and conveyer belts, mobilization of skilled labour, availing raw materials for processing into consumable goods, infrastructural investment in factory buildings, internet and roads, a vibrant service sector to help in branding, banking and research and a sound policy environment to regulate production of goods. In devolving industrialization to counties, there is need for county governments to create enabling environments for factories to be set up through various policy, infrastructural and leadership interventions. Kitui County seems to have gotten this right but there is a huge room for improvement.

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