Kitui County will showcase its textiles products at a major exhibition in Dallas, Texas next week as part of efforts to access and create linkages with the international market.
The county’s garment manufacturing factory has been invited to this year’s Dallas Trade and Investment Summit, to exhibit various products and learn how to expand the apparel business using the latest technologies.
This was revealed Thursday when Governor Charity Ngilu hosted United States Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter at the Kitui County Textiles Centre (Kicotec) to assess the factory’s capacity and the quality of the garments being produced.
The US envoy lauded Ms Ngilu’s efforts, saying the success of Kicotec which was established last year is a testimony to Kenya’s manufacturing potential that remains largely untapped.
The trade fair is a platform for US and Kenyan private sector and government representatives to engage on key sectorial issues, including Agribusiness, Energy, Health, Infrastructure, Housing, ICT, environmental conservation and Finance.
Mr McCarter said the US was keen to help Kitui County create the necessary market linkages with American importers for its textile products by providing support on how to improve the quality of the garments.
“Am happy to see more than 350 young people, who were jobless a few months ago enjoying gainful employment. This is an idea that every county in Kenya should emulate as part of the Big Four Agenda” said the envoy.
Mr McCarter, who prior to his appointment and posting to Nairobi, was a manufacturing entrepreneur, urged counties to establish similar ventures to create jobs for youths and women in the country.
The multiplier effect of the factory meant more people have access to decent food, healthcare, housing and clothing — which consequently expands the overall economy, he said.
“This project illustrates that Kenya should no longer be a beneficiary of foreign donor aid but how local resources can be used to grow domestic industries and manufacture products that compete in the global market” he said.
Ms Ngilu said that her vision was to make Kitui an apparel county with access to the American and other foreign markets by building on the success of a garment factory the county set up a year ago.
She said the American apparel market alone was worth US$343 billion (Sh34.3 trillion) where Kenya wasn’t enjoying any meaningful share due to lack of cloths manufacturing plants.
“The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) presents an opportunity for Kenya to have special access to the US market which sadly remains largely underutilised,” she said
The Kitui factory has attracted national attention with many counties coming to benchmark in Kitui. It has been awarded by President Uhuru Kenyatta the tender to make uniforms for Chiefs and their assistants.
The first batch of chief uniform made at the facility which employs 350 youths was delivered two months ago.
However, the governor says although the facility has attained some level of operation and stability, there is risk of slumping into a comfort zone and hence need for continued benchmarking and implementing what is learnt, noting that her vision is to make Kitui Apparel County.