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India grants Sh3 billion to Rivatex for machine upgrade

Indian firm Lakshmi Machine Works (LMW) will modernise Rivatex’s textile machines to enable the firm to compete globally.

21st June 2017

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Nairobi


The financial support follows a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last July where an agreement on trade was signed between Exim Bank of India and the national Treasury. “Modernisation of Rivatex factory is expected to revive the textile and cotton industry in Kenya and generate employment,” said a statement by the company.

The LMW managing director, Sanjay Jayavarthanavelu, also wants the curriculum of Moi University School of Engineering reviewed to be in tandem with the needs of modern industries. Experts from LMW had earlier visited Moi University’s School of Engineering to assess its problems and requirements. “There is a need to examine the possibilities of supplying latest machinery to the department’s labs and to help in skills development and capacity building,” said Mr Jayavarthanavelu.

High costs and shortage of raw materials

The Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade, Adan Mohamed, blamed high electricity costs and inadequate raw materials for the slow revival of the textiles industry. “High cost of power is making it difficult for investors in the textiles industry to break even. The government therefore needs to increase electricity supply at affordable rates for the sector to maximise production,” said Mr Mohamed. “Cheap imports are not a threat to growth and expansion of the textiles industry in Kenya. What is required is proper managerial strategies to target export markets.”

It is also emerging that the Eldoret-based firm is operating below capacity due to an acute shortage of raw materials. “We are producing an average of 10,000 bales against a capacity of 70,000 bales annually, which has impacted negatively on our operational costs,” said the firm’s managing director, Prof Thomas Kipkurgat, in an earlier interview.

The textile firm was bought by Moi University at Sh205 million after it was placed under receivership more than 10 years ago. The company used to produce a total of 15.73 million metres of fabric before it was placed under receivership in 2000, following massive administration and financial mismanagement. The fabric comprised 5.5 million meters of dyed cotton, 7.7 million metres of printed cotton, and 1.17 and 0.55 million metres of dyed and printed polyester/viscose, respectively.


Stakeholders want the deal with Moi University reviewed, arguing that it has failed to meet the set targets. “The factory has achieved little success despite the government and development partners pumping colossal sums of money to revive it. The factory has been converted into a training institution, instead of a textiles manufacturing firm that could create employment,” said Charles Mose, a former official of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Uasin Gishu branch.

Some the company’s facilities have been converted by Moi University to offer aviation courses.

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