Empower local manufacturers instead of banning importation of shoes - Expert

Empower local manufacturers instead of banning importation of shoes - Expert

A trader arranges second-hand pairs of soccer shoes for sale at an open air market in Nairobi, Kenya May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Samuel Karanja, the CEO of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Alliance of Kenya, has proposed a better formula that the government can use to bolster local manufacturing of shoes instead of banning importation.

According to Karanja, the government has installed uninformed policies to protect local traders which have always frustrated businesses in the nation, and is busy focused on piling more stringent tax regulations.

He said that the government needs to restructure its policies and better understand the structures bolstering the local market, arguing that stopping importation will render many Kenyans jobless.

"Government does not like working hard. They are supposed to do a census of the MSMEs and use the infrastructure that is already there. We have Huduma Centre. Any person who needs affordable credit should register there so that we know the actual number of MSMEs that are there so that we can make informed policies," he said.

"The government does not even have data of who is doing what where and we have already an organised team there."

Karanja, therefore, advised that the government should instead empower local retailers by creating access to credit and install better working policies instead of killing the importation of shoes which has employed many Kenyans.

He said that the government should complement the local manufacturing market with those importing from global markets and gradually phase one out while still cushioning traders.

"Do you know how many shoes are being consumed in this country? Do we have local manufacturing of shoes? Who can meet the local appetite for shoes?" he posed.

"You cannot kill a sector to build another sector but you facilitate a sector to grow into manufacturing. So the people doing importation of shoes can be empowered to do local manufacturing in progression because these sectors employ so many people."

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria on Monday said that the importation of shoes in Kenya will be banned from next year and instead build a shoe production industry in the country.

He said the government will set up a leather factory in Laikipia County where shoes can also be manufactured for export.

“From next year there will be no import of shoes. Shoes will be manufactured here in Laikipia and those who don't want to wear those shoes can remain barefoot,” said Kuria.

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