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Principal Secretary Dr. Juma Mukhwana Calls for Visa-Free Travel in Africa to Promote Trade and Industrialization

Principal Secretary Dr. Juma Mukhwana Calls for Visa-Free Travel in Africa to Promote Trade and Industrialization

In a recent interview, Principal Secretary Dr. Juma Mukhwana, who heads the state department for industry within the Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry, emphasized the need for Africans to be able to travel within the continent without requiring visas. The interview centered on discussions about industrialization in Kenya and the challenges and strategies surrounding it.

Key Points from the Interview:

Industrialization Challenges and Strategy: Dr. Mukhwana acknowledged the complex landscape of industrialization, where factors like factory closures and fluctuating manufacturing contributions impact the industry. He highlighted the importance of considering both the pros and cons, effectively applying cost-benefit analysis to navigate the industrial sector.

Mandate of the State Department: The state department's main objective is to add value to imports, thus reducing taxes. Dr. Mukhwana provided an example of how the department encourages partial manufacturing within Kenya to lower tax obligations on imports. This strategy aims to foster local industries and production capabilities.

Local Manufacturing for Economic Growth: Dr. Mukhwana stressed the significance of manufacturing and selling surplus goods within the country to drive economic growth. He compared this approach to successful models like China and India, emphasizing the need for Kenya to prioritize its internal market.

Intra-African Trade: The interview shed light on the disparity in trade volume between African countries and other continents. Dr. Mukhwana highlighted the low percentage of intra-African trade (15%) compared to Europe (70%) and Asia (45%), indicating a need for increased collaboration and trade among African nations.

Challenges in Trade and Economic Cooperation: The discussion also touched on the hurdles faced by African nations due to existing borders and trade barriers. Dr. Mukhwana expressed concerns about impediments to economic cooperation and proposed addressing these challenges through regional agreements, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Visa Issues and Trade: Dr. Mukhwana cited instances where visa-related obstacles hindered trade. He highlighted a case involving Congolese importers requiring visas to clear goods in Mombasa, which led to delays and operational challenges. He urged for smoother visa processes to facilitate trade and economic activities.

Decline in Manufacturing Contribution: The conversation addressed the decline in Kenya's manufacturing contribution to GDP, which dropped from 20% to 7% over a decade. Dr. Mukhwana attributed this decline to a combination of policy decisions and other factors affecting business and investment.

Future Plans for Industrialization: Dr. Mukhwana outlined plans to reverse the decline in manufacturing contribution. These include measures to reduce power costs, enhance the ease of doing business, and create specialized economic zones to attract both local and foreign investment.

Public and Private Sector Collaboration: The interview highlighted efforts to encourage collaboration between the government and private sector. Dr. Mukhwana shared examples of joint ventures and investments in key areas like agriculture and manufacturing.

Promotion of Innovation: Dr. Mukhwana stressed the importance of innovation in tackling challenges associated with industrialization. He cited the need for creative solutions to address resource constraints and adapt to changing economic dynamics.

In conclusion, Dr. Juma Mukhwana's interview highlighted the imperative of visa-free travel within Africa to enhance trade and industrialization efforts. The conversation delved into challenges faced by Kenya's industrial sector, proposed strategies to boost local manufacturing, and emphasized the potential of intra-African trade for economic growth. The interview also underscored the significance of regional cooperation, policy adjustments, and innovative approaches to drive Kenya's industrialization agenda.