BAT completes first phase of Ksh.2.5B ‘Lyft’ factory
Tobacco based manufacturer British American Tobacco-Kenya (BAT) has completed the first phase of its new Ksh.2.5 billion Nairobi based factory.
The hub centered on the production of free oral nicotine pouches for the African market and the globe is expected to support up to 80 new skilled jobs once complete.
The factory is a central pillar in BAT’s diversification away from just the manufacture and marketing of cigarettes.
Progress on the multi-billion facility nevertheless comes against an ongoing tug of war between the firm and the Ministry of Health over the regulation of its oral nicotine pouches marketed under the Lyft brand name.
Last month, BAT lamented plans by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to classify the products as tobacco products which would sink the product under provisions of the Tobacco Control Act.
The classification of the pouches under the legislation would see its products targeted with a similar tax rate and marketing restrictions as traditional cigarettes.
In October 2020, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe threw a spanner in the works of BAT product diversification plans by deeming the registration of the nicotine pouches illegal.
Anti-tobacco lobby groups such as the Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (Ketca) for instance want the product banned arguing its ease of access to minors.
BAT which remains in talk with government to clear the production and marketing of the product meanwhile sees Lyft as a substitute to cigarettes for addicted smokers.
In its 2020 annual report, published earlier this week, BAT has listed discussions on how to navigate challenges in respect to Lyft as part of its strategic board activities.