Preparations are in high gear for the 22nd Edition of the East African Community (EAC) Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fair, formerly known as the Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi Exhibition.
The 22nd annual EAC Trade Fair will be held from 8th – 18th December 2022 at the Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala, Uganda under the theme “Buy East African to Build East Africa for Resilience and Sustainable Development,” and is expected to draw over 1500 MSMEs in trade, manufacturing, agribusiness and services sectors from the seven (7) EAC Partner States.
Since its inception, the annual EAC exhibition has brought together MSMEs from the then East Africa’s six partner nations (now seven) to expand their reach into new markets, share new technologies, and strengthen regional integration. About 5,000 Kenyans have benefited from this trade fair, with a majority having established solid presence in the regional market through consistent supplies.
The EAC’s expanded market size (300 million people) and GDP (approximately US$250 billion) as a result of the recent entry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into the community adds significant impetus to the push to increase Intra-EAC trade, especially given that the EAC region now stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, making it competitive and easy to access the larger African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The 22nd EAC MSMEs trade fair will provide an opportunity to emerging and innovative MSMEs to access the export market, even as they prepare to take up opportunities under the AfCFTA.
Speaking during the launch of the National Organizing Committee for the trade fair, the Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Cooperatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Hon. Simon Chelugui, EGH noted with appreciation that the theme of this year’s Fair which is “Buy East African to Build East Africa for Resilience and Sustainable Development,” resonates well with Kenya’s push for Buy Kenya Build Kenya.
“This event will present an opportunity for over 350 Kenyan MSMEs to further understand the emerging market dynamics and business practices to facilitate business linkages for increased trade. It will not only avail a forum for showcasing what Kenya has to offer to the regional market but also play a leading role in facilitating trade and business exchanges among participating countries while at the same time offering an exciting platform for launching new and improved technologies targeting both the local and regional markets. Over the past 5 years, volume of Kenyan exports to the EAC region has amounted to $1.4 Billion. The National Export Development and Promotion Strategy envisions to increase this by ensuring that 60% of Kenya’s manufactured products will be exported to the regional and global markets. This will grow the Country’s export target by 25%. This comes at a time that Kenya’s exports are projected to rise by 15% this year compared to the $6.08B recorded in 2021 due to increased sales to new African countries upon the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The trade fair will further serve to consolidate Kenya’s contribution to the volume of exports in the region, in line with the National Export Development and Promotion Strategy.The Government is also exploring new development plans to improve MSMEs’ awareness of digital markets and trade to sustain e-commerce,” said CS Simon Chelugui.
As the global and regional economies emerge from the shocks caused by the recent global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic; the business recovery trajectory must be maintained by way of harnessing local sourcing and deepening the value chain frameworks among other strategies. By strengthening the value chain frameworks, our industries and MSMEs will undoubtedly discover and organise their business operations into strategic main and secondary activities; comprehend the links and dependencies between various activities and sectors, and comprehend key competencies and areas of growth. Kenya has taken several steps at the National, Regional and Global levels to address bottlenecks to trading with the EAC and other trading blocs. These include integration of MSMEs into value chains, production linkages to enhance value addition and expand local manufacturing of finished products for export. These initiatives are aligned to the National Trade and Policy Framework in Kenya’s Vision 2030 for export growth through value addition in export oriented manufacturing and services.
Speaking during the launch, Director General Micro and Small Enterprises Authority Mr. Henry Rithaa said, ‘‘The Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA) is pleased to spearhead and coordinate Kenya’s participation at the EAC MSMEs Exhibition and Trade Fair. Kenya’s continuous involvement in the event is motivated by the event’s ability to provide a venue for MSMEs in our various nations to create connections and collaborations that will create market linkages in the region. The Authority is confident that this event will give an ideal platform for promoting diversified Kenyan brands, testing newly created technologies, and improving Kenya’s business presence in Uganda and neighbouring countries as part of the enlarged East Africa Community trading bloc. The Authority is further collaborating with agencies represented in the National Organizing Committee to create forward linkages for participating MSMEs post-event.’’
The Multi-sectoral National Organizing Committee will vet participating MSMEs and their products to ensure the image of Kenya and the sector is well represented through high-quality products and services. To participate in the Exhibition, Kenyan exhibitors are required to