international – Kenya plans to focus on the African continent to drive export growth, an official said on Thursday. Jaswinder Bedi, chairman of Export Promotion Council (EPC), told journalists in Nairobi that Kenya has a competitive advantage in manufactured goods as compared to most other African countries.
"We see an opportunity to expand our export volumes by focusing on sale of manufactured goods to the rest of Africa," Bedi said.
Government data indicates that in 2018 approximately 40 percent of Kenya's exports went to other African markets.
"Most of Kenyan exports to Africa are value-added goods while exports to the rest of the world are mostly raw materials," Bedi said. Kenya is likely to reap enormous benefits once the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is fully operational and tariffs are removed, he said.
"At present non-tariff barriers in the form of product standards present a huge challenge to the expansion of Kenya's outbound trade in Africa," Bedi said.
According to the EPC, poor transport infrastructure also hinders the growth of Kenyan exports to the rest of Africa.
"Merchandise from Kenya often becomes uncompetitive when transported to landlocked countries in the continent," Bedi said.
Kenya's export now accounts for 8 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), against a target of 15 percent. The majority of Kenyan exports are agricultural products with little value addition, Bedi said.