African technology policy studies network ' Kenya Chapter
Ngahu, Catherine W
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This study sought to identify the innovations developed by SEs in their effort to overcome problems related to resource scarcity with a view to establishing the technological obstacles hindering further development. 129 SEs were sampled in four areas - Nairobi, Thika, Nyeri and Machakos. The data needed was gathered through observation and interviews. Most of the technological innovations identified meet the criteria of appropriate technology as described in the literature. The techniques used make optimum use of available materials and resources in the local environment and the products created meet the local people's needs. The processes are more labour-intensive, relatively simple and show a high degree of adaptation to the local environment. A major problem of most innovations in the SE sector is that although the innovators expect imitation, they appear incapable of preempting it by strengthening their designs as suggested in the literature. Another problem with the innovations in this sector is the lack of continual change or improvement which is necessary for the maintenance or enhancement of competitiveness even after the imitative phase. The major obstacles hindering the continual improvement of these innovations are lack of finance, marketing skills and technical expertise. The major policy interventions proposed in this study relate to the provision of an enabling environment to facilitate the coming together of the SE innovators and the important aspects of finance, technical expertise and market information. The problem of financial resources should be addressed through policies designed to improve access to credit in this sector, while encouraging SE owners to form associations and to devise their own credit programs. The government should playa facilitative role through the use of policy instruments that encourage continuous and incremental upgrading of existing technologies in the SE sector. Research , should be devoted to upgrading SE sector technologies with a view"to addressing the limitations relating to production processes, skills and quality of output.