Kenyaengineer last evening joined Cabinet secretary Engineer Kamau and the Swedish Minister of Finance Mr Anders Borg in attending the launch of operations by the Swedish automaker Scania at the lavish Windsor gardens.
The Swedish firm had initial done business in the region through Kenya Grange Vehicle which it has now acquired and injected 2.4 billion Shillings. This will aid it gain a foothold in East African community whose vehicle market has been growing. “This is a long term commitment to Kenya and East Africa. The market provides great opportunities and challenges for the transportation industry,” said Scania Vice President Trucks Christopher Podgorski.
Kenya Grange was the sole franchise holder for Scania trucks and buses and provided a range of back-up services including dependable parts supply, comprehensive service and repair support, fleet management systems as well as driver and mechanic training. Scania joined the local market in 1987 in Industrial Area, before widening its presence in Nakuru and Mombasa. The Kenya business runs under Scania East Africa Limited.
Sales of commercial and public transport vehicles such as pick-ups, trucks and buses accounts for 40 per cent of the industry, buoyed by increased demand in sectors such public transport, haulage and agriculture.
Over the past two years, global firms have shown interest in putting assembly plants in Kenya because of the tax incentives, and the regional growing economy. Most recently Toyota joined the list of commercial vehicles assemblers with Hino buses and trucks. Other players in the segment are India’s Tata and China’s Foton.
In Kenya, local vehicle assemblers benefit from tax incentives on import of completely knocked down units (CKD) — the parts needed to assemble a vehicle — as they are zero-rated as opposed to 25 per cent import duty on vehicle imports.
Other dignitaries who attended the meeting include; Scania senior vice president Mr Christopher Podgorski, Mr Per Holmstrom who is the managing director Scania East Africa, Nairobi county representative Mr Evans Ondieki.
In giving his key note the Swedish Minister of Finance spoke to the high standards and resilience of Scania Trucks. He said even as he grew up he watched the trucks master extremities in weather and last longer than any other trucks.
As a parting shot and a challenge Mr Borg said that in fifty years he will stand in Maasai mara with his daughter who after observing the prosperity of Kenyans then will ask if Kenyans were ever poor at all.