Traders seeking to buy subsidised cooking oil from the government for resale to Kenyans at a profit will need part with least Sh185,000 to purchase the required dispensing machines.
The Ministry of Trade and Investments on August 21, 2023, launched the cooking oil dispensing machines, dubbed “Mama Pima” that will sell the commodity for as low as Sh20.
The launch was preceded by the visit of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to Nairobi on Monday. Mr Widodo was hosted by President William Ruto at State House for bilateral talks aimed at boosting trade relations between the two countries.
The government, through the Mama Pima programme, is seeking to provide traders who buy the machines with cooking oil at subsidised prices in a bid to lower the cost of the commodity.
Kenya has partnered with Indonesia’s Pt Industri Nabati Lestari (INL), a leading edible oil manufacturer in the Southeast Asian country, to deliver the cooking oil dispensers.
Indonesia is the second largest exporter of crude palm oil to Kenya after Malaysia, which is processed into various products by local manufacturers.
The programme is being implemented by the Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC), which has been allowed to import refined cooking oil duty-free and distribute it to retail outlets across the country.
KNTC was given the nod to import 150,000 tonnes of rice, 125,000 tonnes of cooking oil, 200,000 tonnes of sugar, 25,000 tonnes of wheat and 80,000 tonnes of beans duty-free for a one-year period ending January next year in a bid to stabilise commodity prices.
Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria said the initiative showed government's commitment to addressing the needs of the most economically disadvantaged citizens and empowering them to improve the quality of their lives.
Mr Kuria added that Kenya is planning to start growing palm oil to substitute imports and will partner with counties and the private sector to invest in plantations.
"Residents will be able to pay as little as Sh20 and buy cooking oil seamlessly," he said.
KNTC said it will sell the commodity to vendors at a below-market price of Sh185 per litre and offer a recommended retail price of Sh210, which would allow the vendors a margin of 13.5 per cent. Prospective vendors are required to meet specific criteria, including possessing business registration certificates and permits.
“KNTC will supply the vending machines with affordable edible oil, thereby lowering the cost of living for consumers," KNTC said in a statement. Cooking oil dispensers are not a new concept in Kenya and are already commonly used in most residential areas especially in Nairobi allowing customers to buy the key cooking input in much smaller quantities, typically less than a litre.
A spot check by Nation revealed that the dispensers, some of which are locally made, are currently selling at between Sh35,000 and Sh100,000 depending on the technical specifications of the machines including customisability.
The use of dispensing machines has grown in popularity in recent years as customers, whose purchasing power has been hugely eroded by a rising cost of living, are able to afford key commodities which they may not otherwise afford in larger quantities.