- Power tools maker STIHL East Africa has lined up $1 million every year for investment in local equipment manufacturing.
- The company has partnered with Proteq Automation Ltd and Tippers and Trailer Ltd, who have been tasked to make accessories for all STIHL East Africa products in the region.
- Company Managing Director Francois Marais says the move will see the firm lower accessory costs, create jobs and inject $1 million every year into the Kenyan market.
Power tools maker STIHL East Africa is set to invest $1 million every year in initiatives that enhance the manufacturing of various equipment part as the company seeks to ensure a wider range of its machines are made locally, opening the doors for new jobs.
The company has already partnered with Kenyan firms including Proteq Automation Ltd as well as Tippers and Trailer Limited, which have been tasked to start making accessories for the entire range of STIHL East Africa machines sold in the region.
STIHL East Africa Managing Director Francois Marais says the investment and new industry collaborations will yield dividend for customers through lower accessory costs while also opening opportunities for employment. The $1 million worth of investment every year will also provide much needed boost to the markets as country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kenya is currently struggling with high unemployment rate especially among the youth and high cost of living largely fueled by runaway cost of fuel and food. Close to one million young people, who graduate from colleges and universities, are joining industries that are already plagued by reduced new job openings.
“STIHL continually demonstrates its world-leading competence with innovations designed to improve functionality, ease of product use, environmental protection, health and safety at work. Our products are synonymous with quality, we have instructed the companies to adhere to our quality standards in a bid to ensure that STIHL remains top of quality,” said Maraias.
The latest move comes after the firm recently launched new products in the market that are designed to enable smallholder farmers adopt mechanisation in their farms in a bid to increase their efficiency, productivity and earnings. A recent report by the World Bank, however, shows that a huge number of farmers in Kenya are yet to embrace mechanization since the undertaking due to large capital requirements needed for the undertaking.
The company’s range of products in the East African market include tillers, water pumps, brush cutters, tea pruners, earth augers, concrete cutters, high pressure cleaners, and vacuum cleaners, chainsaws, among other handheld tools, made specially for the East African market.
“Buying decisions for machines are no longer taken merely based on design and engineering criteria, but rather on the question, ‘How will you as my OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) support my business, ensuring performance, efficiency and productivity of my machine?’ SMEs in Kenya have demonstrated their ingenuity and capacity to meet the firms’ needs,” he noted.
On his part, STIHL East Africa product development officer Daniel Mandellah says some of the accessories to be made locally include agricultural machinery attachments and spares, dealers shop systems, bolt and nuts for various machines, water pump accessories, landscaping and gardening tools attachments, chainsaws attachments, high pressure cleaners accessories among similar others.
“Customers today are looking for life-time support and services – and when it comes to the latter, accessories supply plays a crucial role. With local supply, we will never have to worry about spare parts,” he explained.
Kenya’s manufacturing sector is largely agriculture-based, with investments in food processing and beverage manufacturing segments accounting for 40 per cent and 48 per cent of the share of employment opportunities and GDP respectively.
The country’s manufacturing subsector expanded by 2.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2022 compared to 10.2 per cent growth recorded in the same period of 2021, statistics from the National Treasury show. The growth in the industry sector was supported by positive growths in the electricity and water supply subsector and construction sub-sector which expanded by 4.7 per cent and 4.3 per cent, respectively.
STIHL recently launched a tree pruning device in the East African market, growing its range of offerings as the firm seeks to increase agriculture mechanisation in the region that is largely dependent on farming.
Agriculture is Kenya’s most globally competitive sector, both in traditional exports such as tea, coffee, cut flowers and vegetables as well as emerging export crops such as avocado and macadamia nuts that now play critical roles in earning foreign exchange.
Quality of tea
The manufacturing company said the equipment was aimed at increasing productivity and quality of tea delivered in the market as the region is among the largest tea producers in the world. Kenya is one of the world’s largest tea producers.
STIHL East Africa offices were launched in August 2022, after The STIHL GROUP picked Kenya as its first choice to establish its second subsidiary in Africa.
The subsidiary will be its Eastern Africa hub servicing Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi among others. Kenya is the gateway into Eastern and Central Africa and its Infrastructure allows for entry into these markets.
The firm is mainly targeting the booming agriculture and construction sectors in the region, as governments continue to increase investments in these areas to drive economic growth, regional connectivity and industrialization.