The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has welcomed government plans to create a textile industry hub at the export processing zone in Athi River town, saying it will boost backward integration in the country's clothing sector.

KAM's assistant executive officer for textiles, Joseph Wairiuko, told just-style: "The revival of the entire cotton value chain will create the necessary jobs for Kenyans due to the high labour intensiveness as well as its forward and backward linkages."

Kenya's industry minister Adan Mohammed has spearheaded the scheme located near Nairobi, which will involve leasing government land to industry-specific investors to build what it calls a 'textile city'. It will host plants for cotton ginning, yarn spinning, and textile, fabric, apparel and garment accessories.

The initiative is expected to create around 200,000 new jobs by expanding Kenya's clothing and textile sector. The plan has also been integrated into a wider government National Industrialisation Roadmap, launched last November.

Several international garment manufacturers including fashion suppliers PVH and VH Corporation have already toured the Athi River site to assess the potential of setting up manufacturing plants, said a Kenya industry ministry report.

Despite the initiative's welcome, Rajeev Arora, executive director of the African Cotton and Textiles Industries Federation (ACTIF), cautions that the government also needs to improve its macro-economic policies to boost its chances of success.

"If the government wants to enhance investment in the apparel and textile industry, they immediately need to enhance security [by improving law enforcement] and create confidence for investors."

He added that the government should also reduce electricity costs, while proactively improving logistics within Kenya and introducing new regulations for financing based on international norms.