Reforms long overdue to spur manufacturing

Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled the Big Four agenda with the priority focus areas of his last term in office.

The Big Four agenda focuses on manufacturing, universal healthcare, affordable housing and food security. The government desires to raise the share of the manufacturing sector from the current nine per cent to 15 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) as well as create more than one million jobs in the sector by 2022.

This is quite an ambitious plan given that there are only about three years left to attain this goal.

The sector falls under the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Co-operatives.

The sector is wide and therefore, several regulators supervise it. This means that there are several piece-meal laws and policies targeting the industry including those on the environment, finance and tax.

Key policies include Vision 2030, science, innovation and technology and trade-related.

There are several measures to boost the sector including tax incentives that have boosted manufacturing activities.

A single policy framework is needed to cater for the manufacturing sector. Other than incentives, such a policy would give manufacturers and investors a guideline of priority areas to focus on and meet their needs.

A sound intellectual property law regime would also enhance and support the sector. Manufacturers churn out a lot of products after spending a lot of time on research and development.

A strong intellectual property regime would motivate manufacturers to innovate.

A strong and effective enforcement mechanisms on issues such as intellectual property and counterfeit goods should be part of a sound policy framework.

Kenya Industrial Property Institute provides an efficient system of registering trademarks as well as an industrial tribunal with powers to adjudicate on refusal to grant trademarks or a dispute involving brands.

The High Court also has jurisdiction to hear infringement cases and so far, there have been a number of intellectual property rights proceedings that have been decided, setting precedent.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers actively lobbies for an improved regulatory framework.

One of the key achievement is the enactment of the anti-counterfeit laws and the strengthening of the Anti-Counterfeit Agency.

Kenya is one of the few countries globally that have an anti-counterfeiting law.

Recently the agency in collaboration with others has been able to seize counterfeit goods of high value.

There have been very high-profile trials of corrupt officials in some of the agencies, which is a very encouraging action by the government.

From my independent research, I have not come across any country with a stand-alone manufacturing law or policy but the importance of having a policy in place is to guide the sector and to provide a good foundation for the realisation of goals.

Source – Business Daily

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