This report examines East Africa’s regional economy in general, with a particular focus on the printing sector in the East African Community member states and Ethiopia. It includes profiles of 37 companies including De La Rue Kenya, a subsidiary of De La Rue, the world’s largest commercial printer of banknotes, Nampak Kenya and the previously state-owned Rwanda Printing and Publishing, operated by a consortium comprising Rwanda’s Great Lakes Communications and Media Centre and the Kenya-based company Print Fast Kenya.
The Printing Industry in East Africa
East Africa, which recorded an economic growth rate of 5.9% in 2017, is the fastest growing region on the African continent and one of the world’s most rapidly expanding markets for security printing. The printing industry in East Africa is generally underdeveloped and in some countries, barely functional. Factors such as poor quality, high pricing structures and delivery delays have compelled many publishers to engage the services of printers from countries where services are generally of a significantly higher standard.
East Africa’s printing industry has been constrained by over-reliance on imports, lack of availability of raw materials, high production costs, lack of infrastructure, skills shortages, lack of access to finance and foreign currency, political and economic instability, low levels of investor confidence and high levels of corruption and criminal activity, notably counterfeiting. Traditional printing, including printing of publications and textile printing, has been disrupted by rapid advances in digital technologies. Increased demand for packaged consumer goods presents opportunities for industry players. Other growth segments include signage, outdoor advertising billboards and security printing. There is strong demand for anti-counterfeiting printing measures including tamper evident inks and instant verification security inks.