January 29, 2012
Dominic Wanjihia showed us this chaff cutter made in Brazil he'd picked up for 35,000 Kenyan Shillings (around USD400 or thereabouts). He's using it to test and run his biogas generators at his workshop.
Brazil? Not Indian or Chinese? What about the jua kali makers, don't they make one far cheaper?
Brazil, he said. They've got the best quality, the best materials and the best finish for the price - far better than anything I've seen out of India or China (here in the Kenyan market). And the jua kali makers don't manage to balance it properly so the welded seams start tearing from the machine's vibrations after a while.
We've read about increasing South South trade between numerous Sub Saharan countries and the emerging economies of the BRIC nations but this is something I'd have never imagined. Dominic was our guide through the informal manufacturing sector in Kenya when I'd first come in the Autumn of 2010 to take a closer look at innovation under conditions of scarcity. At that time, if the majority of the machine tools used were not of local manufacture, they tended to be imported from China, or used ones from India.
Brazil is certainly taking this emerging market opportunity very seriously if they've managed to not only enter the market but gain such a reputation in so short a time.