Kenya’s journey to becoming a global industrial powerhouse is on course, President William Ruto has said.

He cited the current robust investor confidence, saying it is attracting substantial foreign and local investments and elevating the country’s industrial agenda.

“Our Special Economic Zone programme is coming of age, vindicating its driving vision of mobilising private investment as the primary driver of economic growth in our country,” he said.

The programme, he said, is aimed at increasing employment, growing exports, enhancing supply and boosting Kenya’s foreign exchange earnings.

President Ruto made the remarks during the official opening of Jumbo Africa Auto Auction Ltd at the Naivasha Special Economic Zone.

Afterwards, he broke ground for the construction of 1000 affordable housing units at the special economic zone.

The President said the Government had invested heavily in similar economic zones across the country. These are Dongo Kundu in Mombasa, Sagana (Kirinyaga), Thika, Egerton, Eldoret and Busia.

He said the Naivasha Special Economic Zone’s industrial park is a major boost in the country’s industrialisation. The President pointed out that the facility is the first Japanese car auction in Africa.

“Many doubted this industrial park will become a reality. Fortunately, we have kept our word,” the President said.

He announced that five more investors will soon set up base in Naivasha, among them n electric vehicle manufacturing company.

The Government has bought an extra 5,000 acres to make Naivasha a full-fledged industrial city.

The President noted that the Special Economic Zone will enable buyers purchase vehicles using the Kenya shilling rather than dollars.

“Competitive bidding will guarantee lower prices enhancing the savings buyers will accrue compared to traditional purchasing and car importation,” he added

He said the high demand for vehicles is expected to stimulate the vehicle spare parts industry and overall activities in the automotive sector.

This, he said, will lead to the expansion of the overall economy and the introduction and adoption of emerging technologies.

Governor Susan Kihika of Nakuru highlighted the zone’s potential to create more than 100,000 job opportunities therefore addressing unemployment and fostering manufacturing growth in the region.

She cited the lower electricity tariff KSh5 per kilowatt-hour and urged investors to capitalise on the opportunity.

Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Okaniwa Ken said the investments in the special economic zone had the full backing of the Japanese Government.

“Kenya is a gateway to African markets and other countries will be opened up,” he noted

Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara said the facility will open up the area’s economy by “putting Naivasha on the world map”.

Also present were Principal Secretaries Abubakar Hassan (Investment Promotion) and Alex Wachira (Energy), and MPs John Kiarie (Dagoretti) and Maina Karobia (EALA).

Jumbo Africa Auto Auction Ltd CEO Zahid Khan and chairman Chaudhry Rehman expressed their gratitude for the support the Kenya Government had offered them.