True to the words of the Roman philosopher Seneca; “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”, several textile manufacturers in Kenya have opened unexpected revenue streams presented by demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) being used to manage the spread of COVID-19.
Data provided by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers shows that several companies recalibrated their machines to start manufacturing PPEs, whose demand is expected to remain high in the medium term.
Although the value of PPEs manufacturing industry is not yet known, it is expected to grow into tens of billions of shillings by the end of the year because despite the expected opening up of the economy, wearing a mask is likely to be a mandatory requirement by the government flatten and eventually dip the COVID-19 curve.
According to the Kenya COVID-19 Fund, of the Sh2.7 billion, so far raised through various donations, a graphic on its website shows that the amount spent so far has been on the supply of medical facilities and equipment and support for vulnerable communities with their immediate needs, including food, is almost equal but not specified.
Among the companies tapping PPEs revenue are seasoned manufacturers and new entrants at the Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
A surprise player is the Kitui County Textile Centre, which the only county-run high capacity textile manufacturer in Kenya, a move that has not only offered jobs to residents but will also increase the county’s internal generated revenue.
The key beneficiaries of the PPEs business opportunity include;
Kitui County Textile Centre: This is one of the most successful stories of devolution in Kenya. This textile manufacturing plant is fully owned by the County Government of Kitui. It has generated hundreds of jobs for Kitui residents. It will also help the county increase its own revenue generation and therefore allocate more money to development projects. “Let us support our textile sector. We know that a face mask from Kitui, is just as good as or better than any from any other part of the world,” President Uhuru Kenyatta on BuyKenyanBuildKenya.
Nguo Zetu EPZ: This is the newest setup at EPZ manufacturing apparels for exports but has taken advantage of the COVID-19 business opportunities to meet the demand for PPEs.
Shona EPZ: It specialises in knitted, woven or printed fabric including pocketing fabric and garments accessories such as buttons, collars, buckles, laces, zips and fasteners.
Alpha Knits: Garments manufacturer based in Ruiru town, Kiambu County.
Manchester Outfitters: One of Kenya’s oldest garments manufacturer, established in 1954. The company makes a range of products for schools, hospitals, military among others.
Rivatex East Africa: The State-owned company describes itself as an “A to Z” textile solutions company.
Dala Textiles EPZ: This an export-oriented garment manufacturing company which has also taken advantage of local demand for PPEs due to COVID-19 pandemic.