Buy Kenyan, Build Kenya!

Between the years 2013 and 2019, Kenya averaged 7,250 locally assembled cars annually, with a peak of 10,200 cars assembled in 2015. Of these locally assembled cars, 90% were heavy commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses.

The automotive assembly industry falls under the manufacturing industry, a pillar of the Big Four Agenda, laid out to accelerate national development. In 2015, Kenya’s automotive assembling industry grossed an annual turnover of $600 million, a fraction of the potential unexploited. In the 1980s, Kenya assembled 13,000–18,000 cars annually, a figure that slumped to the graphed figures below, in the wake of a policy change in 1993, that saw a lift on the ban of importation of fully built vehicles(FBU’s).

Monthly car assembling done in Kenya since 2013

Passenger car imports are now Kenya’s fourth-largest import by value, making 2.4% of total imports and valued at $440 million annually. This number is set to increase by 10–12% annually, despite imports having already flooded Kenyan roads, with second-hand imports currently accounting for 80% of Kenya’s total fleet.

A policy was drafted early in 2019, that seeks to phase out second-hand imports by the year 2026. Foreign car companies are partnering with local assemblers to have cars assembled locally, with examples being Volkswagen, Peugeot, Isuzu and Toyota. While this might seem like a solution to satisfy the growing local demand, friends, I urge you, Buy Kenyan, Build Kenya!

Author: Joseph Ongaki

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