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Q&A With Brand.KE CEO: Use Social Media to Promote Kenya

Dr Wilfred Marube, the CEO, Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (Keproba), responds to queries from the public via Sunday Nation.

How is your institution aiding innovative youths to promote their brands? Komen Moris, Eldoret

The mission of Keproba is to create awareness on export markets and products that could perform well in those markets; provide export-related information and market intelligence, support enterprises through capacity building, [provide] market access requirements and opportunities, market linkages and other interventions to enhance participation in export trade.

We run a number of programmes such as product, market development and promotion, branding, market surveys and research, trade advisory and e-trade, among others, that are aimed at ensuring that enterprises are market ready.

One of the most popular programme is product development training, which is aimed at enhancing the productivity of potential and existing enterprises to enable them produce market-ready products that are competitive for both local, regional and the international markets.

For more information on our support, you can visit our website www.brand.ke or email enquiries@brand.ke or visit our offices at Anniversary Towers, Nairobi.

Trade imbalances between Kenya and other countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Arab world is of great concern. What is your agency doing to correct this? Dan Murugu, Nakuru City

Kenya is integrated in global trade. As a country, we have our unique needs that include products that we don’t produce and must import. Similarly, we have products that we export. The balance of trade, therefore, differs from country to country and depends on who has more compelling demands.

Kenya aspires to acquire an industrialisation status through the Big Four Agenda, which will see the country export processed products, and at the same time substitute some of the imported products through increased consumption of those made locally. This is the motivation behind the Buy Kenya, Build Kenya policy.

Our trade deficit is largely with China, India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, European Union, South Africa and Egypt, among others, that export to us capital goods while some also buy our products, mainly primary goods such as tea, coffee and horticultural products.

We intend to enhance market access to these countries by diversifying the product lines that we export to them. We have identified 19 products and 22 markets that will help us grow our exports and reduce the trade imbalance.

Our priority markets are Germany, US, China, United Kingdom, UAE, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Russia, Pakistan, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Poland, Japan, Italy, Netherlands and the larger Africa region through AfCFTA.

Multiple agencies in the ministries of tourism and trade have the mandate to market Kenya abroad. How best can the duplication of roles across these agencies be stopped? Dan Murugu, Nakuru City

The role and mandate of Keproba is clearly set out with a primary mission to promote Kenyan export products and at the same time position Kenya globally. Such a broad mandate requires the support and synergy with other government agencies in various sectors, private sector and other partners. The current contribution of export trade to Kenya’s GDP is close to Sh800 billion underscoring the critical role that this agency and the export sector to Kenya’s socio-economic development.

Many Kenyans seem to favour imported products over the local ones. Does this mean the Made in Kenya campaign has failed? Brian Obiero, Nairobi

We deliberately launched the Made in Kenya (and Buy Kenya Build Kenya) campaign to encourage uptake of local products. This is not a one-off engagement but a continuous call for uptake of our local products. So far, the Made in Kenya brand mark has been adopted by 239 enterprises, with over 600 product lines bearing this mark of identity. We may not be there yet, but we have made significant progress.

How is Keproba taking advantage of AfCFTA to market Kenya? Farouk Abdul, Nairobi

The main objective of AfCFTA is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspersons and investments, thus paving the way for accelerating the establishment of the continental custom union and the African Customs Union.

Likewise, it is also aimed at expanding intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation and facilitation regimes and instruments across Regional economic communities (RECs)–suggested in Article 3 of the AfCFTA agreement and across Africa.

By increasing regional trade, lowering trade costs, and streamlining border procedures, full implementation of AfCFTA will help African countries increase their resiliency in the face of future economic shocks and help usher in the kinds of deep reforms that are necessary to enhance long-term growth.

Kenya has developed an AfCFTA strategy under the leadership of the Ministry of Trade and active participation of Keproba. Keproba has pro-actively engaged with commercial operators, producers and exporters to look up to the opportunities emerging from AfCFTA. We are engaging with cross-border management with our lead trade partners Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia with a view to understanding and alleviating challenges to trade across borders and transit to hinterland economies. Keproba is engaging on research specific to markets to isolate opportunities and market access conditions.

We are also taking trade missions to high-potential markets like DR Congo, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

How can Keproba take advantage of the Safari Rally to make Kenya a foreign investors’ haven? Kuria Mwangi, Limuru

Safari Rally presents a huge opportunity for us to market the country. It has boosted not only international tourism but also domestic, with more than Sh4 billion pumped into the economy. Over 10,000 spectators attended the event in Naivasha. We see this as an opportunity for the private sector to leverage on and make investments in the hospitality facilities in and around Naivasha.

To raise the profile of the event, as an agency we propose Kenyans participate by attending the rally and utilising their social media platforms and other interactions locally and beyond the borders to promote positive messages about Kenya; promotion of Made in Kenya products like tea, coffee, nuts and beer consumed during the period, and build acceptance of Kenyan products.

How has the country picked up from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in as far as marketing itself is concerned? Stephen Lubanzi, Nakuru

Kenya’s export performance showed resilience and growth during the Covid-19 period in 2020, where goods shipped abroad stood at Sh642 billion compared to Sh595 billion in 2019. I can say Covid-19 also presented an opportunity to re-invent and identify other new ways of conducting government business. For instance, we learnt to embrace technology more in ensuring continuity of business in the midst of global lockdowns.

Our agency, for instance, facilitated and hosted 10 women exporters to exhibit and sell virtually during the 37th Edition of Macfrut that happened in Rimini, Italy where deals worth more than $2.1 million (Sh247 million) were achieved during the virtual fair.

Kenya’s position on the proposed global tax deal – the revenue threshold for multinational enterprises (MNEs) to be subjected to the minimum global tax be reduced from €20 billion (Sh2.48 trillion) to €750 million (Sh93.1 billion) – has the potential of scaring some investors, especially those with small turnovers. In terms of your agency’s mandate, don’t you think such a proposal will make marketing Kenya as an investment destination be more challenging? Habil Kiogora, Stuttgart in Germany

Not at all. Kenya still ranks high in the Ease of Doing Business continentally. The country is ranked top 50 in the ease of doing business. The robust labour market, enhanced infrastructure in Kenya are key factors that still make the country attractive for business.

Kenya has a policy and laws that relate to foreign investments. It is based on this that Kenya will determine what is good for the country within a background of competing interests to attract investments. We have incentives that are within our laws and any position on taxation will depend on our laws and the consensus within the East African Community.

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