Construction materials

Company speeds up competition for building materials with new factories

Turkish Industry Holding board chairman Mehmet Coskun (centre) speaks in Nairobi yesterday. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Competition for the manufacture of building materials is expected to intensify following the entry of a new player into the local market.

This follows the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of six factories in the Naivasha Special Economic Zone (SEZ), including one specializing in Turkish ceramics, granite and tiles.

Turkish Industry Holding is behind the $760 million (90 billion shillings) SEZ in Nakuru County. The company’s chairman of the board, Mehmet Coskun, told a press briefing in Nairobi yesterday that the SEZ, which will span 100 acres of land, will take 30 months to complete. The factories will produce medium-density fibreboard (MDF), a raw material for the furniture, tissue paper, ceramic tile, cement, aluminum profiles and steel industries.

It was among several projects commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday in Naivasha.

Once operational, the company said the SEZ would bring about $506 million (60 billion shillings) to the economy. Mr. Coskun said the MDF factory will specialize in high-end furniture, with the SEZ also including a cement factory.

“The major investment will be the MDF and the cement plant because its materials are found locally. The two factories will produce 30% of the products for the local market and 70% for export to regional and international markets like Europe and the United States,” he said.

Mr. Coskun said the SEZ, once operational, would transform Kenya into a major furniture hub in East Africa. He said the idea of ​​investing in the country followed a year-long research by his corporate investment department.

”For an international investor to invest in a country, there are certain rules that we follow. First, the country needs to have physical and legal infrastructure and state policies favor that, and we have found a good investment environment in Kenya,” he said.

The company had also ventured into Ethiopia but ceased operations following political tensions.

It plans to employ 2,900 Kenyans and 350 Turks and Germans in its six factories.

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