Sonko calls on city traders to invest more in local products

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Nairobi Governor, Mike Mbuvi Sonko

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has called on traders to consider investing more in local products than imports.

Sonko, who spoke when he toured the Kariokor Leather Factory on Sunday, said Kenya, and Nairobi in particular, will create more jobs if small traders and buyers embrace the ‘Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’ Initiative.

“We must change our culture and start selling and buying our own so that our local industries can grow and create more jobs,” Sonko said.

He said the Kariokor Leather Industry will not have a big impact on the economy if the local markets are still flooded with imports.

“We have to ensure that our City markets sell products from this factory so that it remains operational and is in a position to sustain its operations,” the Governor said.

Sonko promised the employees a good working relationship with the county and hinted at the possibility of the county working on bylaws that will promote more local products.

The Kariokor factory will undergo a facelift after the Governor signed a deal with the Kenya Leather Development Council.

The deal entails installation of new technological equipment to help in production of quality shoes and other products. It is estimated that the factory which has been accommodating around 1000 traders, will create close to 10,000 jobs.

Sonko said the revamping of the factory will be complete in the next four months.

With the ban on importation of mitumba products still active, he said this is the right opportunity for traders to scale up local production.

“We now have a textile factory in Kitui and the Rivertex one in Eldoret was also revived. We want to see our markets full of these products,” he added. He promised to lead by example by regularly buying shoes from the factory.

“Very soon you will be seeing me clad in purely locally manufactured clothes from the cap to the shoes,” said Sonko.

Pamela Chege, 51, a cobbler at the old Kariokor Factory, welcomed the move by the Sonko administration to upgrade the facility into a modern leather factory.

“We have been working here for ages with old technology but we are now optimistic that our businesses will thrive once the new factory is operational,” she stated.

Another trader, John Mutisya, expressed optimism that the new factory will help boost the local leather industry by giving an opportunity to local manufacturers to produce more products with the new technology that is expected to be introduced at the facility.