Kenya, India to beef up ties in small industry sector

May 15th, 2009 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

By Groum Abate
Addis Ababa, May 15 (IANS) In yet another indication of India’s growing interest in the East African region, the country’s National Small Industries Corp (NSIC) has signed an agreement with Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE) to strengthen cooperation in the small scale industry sector.

KIE is a state-run agency of Kenya to promote indigenous entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises (SME).

According to media reports here, the partnership involves technology transfer, and marks a major step towards improving Kenya’s quality standards in manufacturing, production and human resources.

“The government is keen to forge a viable partnership with friendly countries, particularly in the spirit of south-south cooperation,” Kenyan Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey was quoted as saying.

Under the agreement, signed in Nairobi earlier this week, India will provide technology support and technical skills training to small traders in Kenya, while KIE will facilitate enterprise-to-enterprise contact and the marketing of NSIC products in the region, reports said.

NSIC managing director H.P. Kumar said the company has signed such agreements with several other countries in northern and southern America, Asia and Africa. In the East African Community (EAC) countries, Uganda and Tanzania have already signed mutual agreements with NSIC.

Kenyan officials welcomed the deal, saying it would help their country strengthen its SME sector, reports said.

“This partnership fits in well with our objectives of setting up at least five SME parks, doubling growth of regional market for SME products to 15 percent from the current 7 percent and building capacity for our small businesses,” said John Lonyangapuo, permanent secretary at the Kenyan ministry of industrialisation.

As an emerging market, India has a keen appetite for international opportunities and untapped markets such as the EAC that boasts of a combined wealth of close to $50 billion and a population of over 120 million.

Kenya is an important gateway to the EAC, whose interstate tariff is expected to fall to zero percent with the launch of a common market in the region by next January.

This agreement comes barely a month after the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) signed an agreement with the regional lobby group, the East African Business Council (EABC), aimed at enhancing trade ties between India and EAC.

Under the deal signed in Kigali, Rwanda, both business lobbies agreed to update each other on policy matters and various economic developments, identify bottlenecks in the expansion of economic cooperation and recommend ways and means for removal of barriers to the respective governments, Walta Information Centre, an Addis Ababa-based news agency, reported.

They also agreed to encourage traders in India and East Africa to participate in exhibitions, fairs and business fora in these regions.

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