Kenya’s Export Processing Zone-based (EPZ) companies raked in Sh77.2 billion in sales last year, being a 14.7 percent growth compared to Sh67.3 billion realised in 2017.
Newly released official data shows that exports, which formed the bulk of trading, rose by 19 percent from 60.7 billion in 2017 to Sh72.3 billion mainly attributed to increased market access in the European Union and the US, especially for apparels facilitated under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) initiative.
EPZ firms also attracted new investments in the period under review, with capital injection rising 3.6 percent to stand at Sh16.5 billion in the apparels subsector.
EPZ firms also hired more workers, with the number of jobs rising four percent to stand at 56,945, largely by apparel and agro-processing companies.
Clothing enterprises continued to dominate the EPZ space with 22 companies employing 46,248 out of the total 57,581 workers in the special zones.
Global retail chains
The clothes made in Kenya’s EPZ are exported to global retail chains such as JC Penney in the US, Walmat, Macy’s, Jones New York, Dollar General among others.
While only one new zone was registered last year, 2019 could see more companies setting up camp in Athi River township after the EPZ Authority vowed to repossess undeveloped industrial land and re-allocate the same to ‘serious’ investors.
EPZA said upon expiry of the grace period (March 2019), firms that failed to develop the parcels of land in the last two years will see commencement of a process to cancel their leases and terminate their licence to facilitate re-allocation.
EPZA received a request from apparel firms seeking government intervention in equipping technical institutes with modern industrial machinery to enhance skilled labour.