Kenya launches first of its kind design and prototyping facility


Industry, Trade and investment Cabinet secretary, Adan Mohamed has tipped Kenya’s emerging innovators to unlock Kenya’s industrial and economic potential to support the national industrialisation agenda to create a robust, diversified and competitive manufacturing sector.

He said the Government has prioritized creation of conducive institutional and regulatory processes that would see innovations sustainably contribute to the economy.

Speaking in Nairobi, at the launch of the new Gearbox LITE facility Friday, a new, state-of-the-art workshop dedicated to designing, prototyping and fabrication of industrial and consumer electronics, the Cabinet Secretary lauded  emerging  technology hubs for churning out relevant technology solutions that are responding to local needs, reinforcing the knowledge based economy, creating jobs and improving service delivery.

Gearbox LITE will provide a platform for innovative youth to harness their artistic skills in computer technology, industrial art, and robotics towards building the national capacity for electronic manufacturing in Kenya.

“Gearbox is one of the many technological hubs that are actively engaging the innovative youth thus pushing us forward into the innovation and technological era leveraging Kenya’s massive creative and artistic potential. The launch of this excellent facility is an exciting move for us as a nation as it signifies Kenya’s efforts to plug into the manufacturing eco-system of the world,” said Mohamed.

Mohamed said the Government is keen to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship to provide employment and requisite skills to create an industrial renaissance.

“The innovations like Gearbox are two-pronged in the long run as they off-set the employment gap and provide skills for industrialisation.   Over 100,000 youths are graduating from higher education programmes in Kenya every year but are unable to find jobs and the level of industrialization we seek does not commensurate with the industrial skills available in Kenya,” said Mohamed.

Mohamed said in the near future, the Ministry will develop an SME accelerator to grow small and medium businesses to the next level that would benefit graduates of such technology hubs with nascent ideas that need to be materialized.

“My ministry is working on launching an SME pilot programme that seeks to support SME’s through all phases of growth alongside private sector players that will provide strategic and operational advice, mentorship, sufficient debt and equity financing for new markets,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

And added: “We will also create an industrial fund that will allow the Ministry or its agencies to offer attractive co-investment packages to local or foreign investors when they are needed and to support other critical activities in the industrialization programme.”

This comes amid Government’s business reforms aimed to create a conducive and enabling environment to transact and conduct business. Kenya improved from 139th to 108th in the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2016 Report recently earning global accolades as 3rd most reformed country.

“The monumental series of acts and bills signed including the Companies Act, the Insolvency Act, the Business Registration Service, the Companies and Insolvency Legislation (Consequential Amendments) Act 2015 and Finance Act amendments 2015 will suit the needs of modern business in a way boosting new inventions in businesses,” added Mohamed.

Reiterating the government’s position to support local companies key to emerging sub-sectors “build strong domestic capabilities and know-how in positioning Kenyan companies to benefit from large scale projects in the region.”

“We want to enhance non-industrial job creating sectors, key being the ICT sector with  the East African Information technology related market set to grow to a size of 128 billion (USD) by end of 2015. This is a massive opportunity for our IT service hubs and innovations like Gearbox,” said Mohamed.

The recent ministry re-organisation currently places the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in a key strategic position to effectively deliver on its industrial mandate with the Cooperatives, Marine Commerce and International Trade dockets added to the ministry likely to leveraging industrial progression and local and foreign investment.

He added that Government has made significant strides in protection of intellectual property through the established Anti-counterfeit, Proposed bill in 2015 targeting reforms to the existing Copyright Act and Trade Marks Act that extends protection to copyright, trademarks, designs and patents.

“With a regulated environment many young Kenyans graduating from such facilities can venture into innovating as prototypes can mature to materialization without and also improve foreign investor confidence in the industry.

ICT and local content building are paramount in the Kenya’s recently unveiled ten year industrialization plan expected to create wealth, increase employment and improve the annual national GDP in the coming years.