[Kenya Business Week] Manufacturing, automation and job creation nexus
06-12-2018 13:28:21 | by: Bob Koigi | hits: 988 | Tags:

Even with mounting fears that rapid automation and digitization could reduce the number of jobs in the Kenya’s manufacturing sector, a new report released this week by Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Kenyan Association of Manufacturers, KAM, posits that digital technologies can, in fact, boost job creation by increasing production, which can lead to higher exports. The sector, the report adds, risks further de-industrialization if the government and firms do not adapt to new digital technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

The report contradicts an earlier study released this earlier this year that had predicted a looming risk for African manufacturing as operating robots in US become cheaper than wages in Kenya within 15 years. Experts in manufacturing have been calling on sector-specific approach geared towards automation that they say will drive the industry's competitiveness. KAM has been partnering with local partners among them GIZ and TradeMark East Africa in leveraging the power of ICT to boost the sector prospects. 

In the energy sector, the Kenyan government in partnership with the World Bank has launched an ambitious plan to provide electricity to all citizens by 2022. With the help of the geospatial tool, the strategy has identified least-cost options for bringing electricity to households and businesses throughout the country. This. as the public utility company Kenya Power commits to provide reliable energy as part of big 4 agenda

The Africa Development Bank in its latest analysis says that Kenya has taken less than a decade to make giant strides in its energy sector. Key to this are two iconic renewable energy projects, Turkana Wind Farm and Menengai Geothermal Power Station.

The frican Development Bank Group also this week approved an $ 18.17 million senior loan for the Kopere Solar Power Project in Nandi County. 

On the other hand, JinkoSolar Holding, one of the world's largest solar module manufacturers, has announced that it supplied 55.7MW of high-efficiency modules to the Garissa Solar Power Plant, which is expected to be one of the largest solar power plants in central and eastern Africa once completed. 

Kenya has reiterated its commitment to attain 100 per cent transition to green energy by 2020 as it scales up investment in renewable energy to address the climate change challenge concretely. Reports have posited that creation of the right framework and clear policy is critical in Kenya’s renewable energy deployment and usage. A clean energy revolution has been taking shape in Kenya is being driven by citizens and institutions as appetite for renewable energy rises to new highs. Organizations that have been at the forefront of championing this renewable energy drive include Crossboundary GroupGreenpactOrb Energy and JinkoSolar among others. 

In tech, Safaricom this week began trial of a new and innovative network coverage technology dubbed TubeStar Bas Station aimed at enhancing coverage in urban areas. The telcos has this week also launched Zuri, an artificial intelligence (AI) Chatbot assistant available on Telegram and Facebook Messenger.

Pan-African payments company Cellulant has announced plans to build an application programming interface (API) for Africa’s payments companies to solve Africa’s payment problems.

In financial services sector, Housing Finance Group has reported a pre-tax loss of Ksh325m for the period ending 30 September 2018, occasioned by low demand that has led to a slowdown in the real estate credit growth, and tough operating environment.

And in logistics, global provider of forwarding and logistics services, Panalpina has expanded its cold storage facilities at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport strengthening its Kenyan footprint.