April 28, 2016 ''I am very pleased to address you this morning, and to inform you of an important milestone in our country’s industrial history. When the Jubilee Administration took office three years ago, we promised to improve the lives of our people. As a Government, we were, and remain convinced that empowering the private sector is the surest way to hasten economic transformation, and to achieve this noble goal for every Kenyan. Uchumi and usawa, are indeed, our watchwords. Our manifesto didn’t confine itself to promoting only local investors but also sought to position Kenya as the continent’s manufacturing and technology hubby tapping from the international investors. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is our strategy to make Kenya the preferred gateway to Africa for investors; and the natural home for a thriving army of local and international entrepreneurs. Then, as now, that meant that we needed to attract fresh investment. It also meant that we would have to take full advantage of the growing demand for manufactured goods in the region. That is the ambition that drives our efforts to reduce the cost of doing business, as well as to address every challenge that holds back our innovators. That’s why my Administration has put in place elaborate programmes to make Kenya’s business environment more attractive and globally competitive. Some of the initiatives we are implementing include: the 40-month programme to substantially expand power generation, largely from environmentally friendly and less expensive sources in order to reduce its cost. Other important measures worth mentioning, is the fast tracking of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project; and the 10,000km road and infrastructure programme. Ladies and Gentlemen, Today marks a major milestone in that journey to industrialization and prosperity. This morning, I have been briefed by Price Waterhouse Coopers, who are the joint receivers of Pan Paper Mills, about an agreement they have reached with a strategic investor to purchase the assets of a plant that would have otherwise been to waste. The agreement provides not just for the purchase of the mill, but also for the revival of an industrial icon in western Kenya, a major source of livelihood for our people from this region. For Kenyans born in the 60’s and 70’s, Panpaper represented a symbol of Kenya’s progress. Webuye was a vibrant town, with a diligent, productive population of workers, traders and their families. Over the years the mill suffered a number of business set-backs — in spite of spirited efforts by the previous Administration, which injected billions of shillings. This took a toll on the economy of the region and rendered many of our people from this region without reliable source of livelihood. Today is a great day marking the start of the revival of this Mill. Gathered here with me today are representatives of the people of Western Kenya, including Members of Parliament, the Governor of Bungoma, Government officials and private sector players — all of whom join us to witness the first step of the revival. This mill has for the last decade been plagued by massive debt, and improper management, all of which have conspired to deprive Bungoma, and Western Kenya more widely, of the jobs and prosperity it deserves. The handover of the Mill to the new investor is scheduled to happen next week; and plans are to re-start its operations within the next three months. The investor has also pledged to inject over the next few years 60 million US dollar, which, at the current exchange rate, is about 6billionKenya shillings. I am informed this investment will yield close to 1,500 jobs for the people of Bungoma and Western Kenya within the next 3 years. The good news also is that the investor has given an assurance that former employees of Pan Paper Mills will be given priority as the initial employees to be re-absorbed into the business. I would like to add that the people of Western Kenya can be certain that my Government will be at hand to support them as they reclaim their jewel. Indeed, the Jubilee Administration will fully support the revival of the mill. In this regard, I direct all relevant agencies of Government to expeditiously play their role in the process. Let me close by setting out the next major step of the revival. The Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Investment and Trade, together with other stakeholders, will convene a further briefing session in the coming days to share more details on this great and important milestone. I also want to thank the Investor for the confidence he has shown our country and the economic policies and structural reforms we are implementing to promote private sector. I also wish to reassure the people of Western Kenya that this Administration stands for them, and that we will continue to support them throughout this process. God bless you all. God bless Kenya.''
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