Manufacturers Predict More Investors Will Leave Kenya Over Business Environment

Undated photo of job seekers queuing to submit applications in Nairobi
A photo of job seekers queuing to submit applications in Nairobi
Nairobi County Government

The Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Anthony Mwangi on Monday, May 27 expressed concerns that foreign investors will continue to leave the Kenyan market which would result in job losses.

While speaking during an interview with Hot 96, the CEO explained that the newly introduced Finance Bill, 2024 if enacted, will cost Kenya alot of opportunities and pile more strain on an already struggling economy.

"If you look at the export promotion and investment levy cumulatively, what the government has collected is what it used to collect from one company in a month. So you destroy a sector to collect peanuts," he stated.

The CEO emphasised that the new taxes do not only affect the companies but also trickle down to the consumers who are forced to pay a higher price.

A sugar manufacturing company under operation in Kenya
A sugar manufacturing company under operation in Kenya

Mwangi further revealed that the new taxes will increase the cost of manufacturing and force these companies out of Kenya and the country will be left importing more commodities.

He pointed out some mega companies that have left the Kenyan market in the last few years. This resulted in thousands of Kenyans becoming unemployed and increased the amount Kenya uses to import these products.

"When you come here as an investor you are taken in rounds with some officials asking for some token. These global investors have no appetite for some of these investment destinations that operate like that," he remarked.

Additionally, Mwangi stated that the new direction and proposal were affecting the areas that create jobs for Kenyans such as the textile and apparel industries.

He added that Kenyans and lawmakers should not focus too much on taxes on things such as bread adding that the major factor was looking at how this bill is going to affect production and the creation of jobs.  

"We know where the jobs are, we know we can move 17,000 jobs to 100,000 in leather and footwear. We know how to increase jobs in the apparel and textile industry from 50,000 to about 300,000. Where is this in the bill to create these jobs, inviting foreign and local investors," the CEO added.

The CEO noted that improving the manufacturing sector in Kenya was a step in the right direction but should be implemented in phases to avoid burdening Kenyans especially those in the informal sector at a high risk of losing their jobs.

He advised the government to only tax the end products of all goods produced in Kenya instead of taxing the raw materials which makes the products more expensive.

"We are putting ourselves outside the market because we do not have a strategy for production, but we do not see it because economies die slowly," he added.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Anthony Mwangi
Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Anthony Mwangi