The performance of the furniture and timber value chain in Kenya is crucial both to employment and growth in the country. The sector employs 160,000 people—starting from the forestry sector and going all the way through manufacturing—produces approximately US$452 million of furniture per year and exports US$22 million.
Global Output of Furniture
Global output of furniture amounts to US$480 billion and global trade in furniture stands at US$140 billion. Over the last decade, world furniture production has increased year on year with the exception of 2008 and 2009. In 2010, for the first time, the share of wood furniture production from middle and low income countries was over half of total world furniture production, at 53 percent.
Africa accounts for 2.2% of output and 2.8% of trade, with net imports amounting to US$2.5 billion, with demand in the region being driven by rapid urbanization and increasing purchasing power. The East African furniture market is valued at US$1.2 billion and trade in the region is worth US$298 million.3 Kenya is the largest producer of furniture in East Africa.
Expanding Furniture Sales
Kenya’s furniture industry is well positioned to expand its furniture sales domestically and regionally to capitalize on the growing local and regional markets in East Africa, other parts of the continent, and beyond. Kenya is the strongest regional producer in East Africa. It has a logistically advantageous geographic position that confers it comparatively easy access to local, regional and international markets, a supply of raw materials from neighboring countries that is relatively accessible, and a large workforce with a strong tradition of working in both the informal and formal segments of the furniture value chain.
Furniture Market in Kenya
The furniture market in Kenya stood approximately at US$496 million in sales in 2013, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10% over the past five years. Similar growth over the coming years is expected. Furniture imports stand at US$66 million and constitute 13 percent of the total market. Imports are taking an increasingly large portion of the Kenyan market, growing at a CAGR of 24%.
Exports are growing more slowly at a 10% CAGR. Without a significant push for the development of the local industry, an increasing proportion of consumption in these markets will be met by imports.