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The question that arises is why export would be a more exciting option than the import. First, exports have better impact and sometimes bigger chances.
For thousands of Kenyans entering trade, there is an exciting option that many ignore — export.

The question that arises is why export would be a more exciting option than the import. First, exports have better impact and sometimes bigger chances.

But there is also a fascinating side to it especially when we think of international trade as a never ending game between countries.

Kenyans have sublime skill and passion for business, and hold their own with excellence in the sports that they pursue. The reality is that anyone looking at Kenya’s market place will not fail to feel the imports. As for exports, there is not as much excitement generating and sending products out.

We could say that a large proportion of our best players sign for foreign teams, and they score well.

This being the case, one might ask what options the fans may have. A look at specific sectors such as the car industry provides solid answers. From the tiny minis to glittering fuel guzzlers, thousands of ‘new’ cars occupy the roadside show rooms.

Most are parked facing the street, restless to join our already jammed roads. Kenyans in this business spare no passion or capital importing, stocking and selling used cars from all corners of the world.

Then there is also the ever increasing army of young smart men and women retailing mobile phones, and battalions of others importing them. Few Kenyans have had the will to resist such a vibrant and knowledgeable team.

Indeed, the import madness has made us to bring in things we should be exporting.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) will tell you that we make quality pens, solar panels, steel products, quality furniture, beauty products, farm implements and hundreds of other items including the clothes and shoes.

So, why do Kenya’s smartest and brightest rush to import, when export is equally exciting and has more rewards?

Joined by the millions of Kenyans in the diaspora, we all too quickly jump into thinking about what we can ship into our import-chocked market.

Kenya’s diaspora, if they were to focus on what they could export from Kenya, would make a powerful contribution to the national economy, adding to the billions of dollars they remit back home.

According to some estimates, more than 2.5 million Kenyans live abroad. The majority are young and well trained.

Take the UK, for instance, with 300,000 Kenyans. Even if only a tiny 0.05 per cent were to become importers of Kenyan products into the UK, we would have a decent battalion of exporters. Besides this, these Kenyans are themselves a considerable natural market for our products.

The same can be said of USA, Germany, China, UAE, South Africa, Japan, Namibia, Australia, Botswana and the many other places. Anyone thinking export can bank on Kenya’s favourable international reputation or brand.

Too much

Many strokes of great luck from mother nature, a colourful history and people, world-beating athletes, government efforts nurturing the country’s image in key economies, Obama, and other factors, all combine to give the Kenya many admirers. This important asset should make our goods easily recognised and accepted in many places.

Ironically, many partners are happy to relate and trade with Kenya, but are embarrassed by the trade imbalances we suffer with them.

Some say openly, “this is too much, what more can we buy from Kenya?”

Export is the smarter way for Kenyans to exploit the country’s expanding and improving infrastructure. Government and private sector are investing billions of shillings in roads, airports and sea ports, railways, telecommunication and internet networks.

These are the exporters’ pathways from any corner of the country, to the wide world.

Kenya’s potential to export is great. We just need more Kenyans opting to be successful in export.