Counties seeking to form economic blocs will have to prepare deeds encouraging intra-regional trade and prioritising the use of local resources under a legal framework tabled before Parliament.
If enacted into law, the Bill will require county governments inside a bloc to avoid competition among themselves but instead expand free trade and develop their resources “through such actions as the counties shall consider appropriate”.
Kisumu Senator Rose Nyamunga, who published the Bill, said the principal objective of the proposed law is to ensure that counties make maximum use of the resources in their location.
The counties have over the past seven years formed blocs largely due to their historical, political and economic similarities but such partnership have been without legal backing. The Bill stipulates that an economic bloc shall take the form of a written agreement.
“County governments may enter into an agreement for the establishment of an economic bloc where they have a shared geographical region and for the enhancement of trade and economic development,” Section 8 of the County Resource Development Bill, 2020 states.
The Bill places an obligation on every county government to carry out formal assessments of the resources within their territories, and include them in their integrated development plans as per the requirements of the County Governments Act, 2012.
Six economic blocs were established through mutual understanding between the various counties.
The blocs include the Frontier Counties Development Council comprising Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo, Marsabit, Tana River and Lamu, the North Rift Economic Bloc that consists of Uasin Gishu, Trans-Nzoia, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Baringo, Samburu and Turkana and the Lake Region Economic Bloc that brings together 13 counties of Migori, Nyamira, Siaya, Vihiga, Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kisii, Kisumu, Nandi, Trans Nzoia and Kericho.
Tana River, Taita Taveta, Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa form the Jumuia ya Kaunti za Pwani economic bloc while South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc comprises Kitui, Machakos and Makueni. Mount Kenya and Aberdares Region Economic Bloc consists of Nyeri, Nyandarua, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Laikipia, Nakuru and Kiambu.
Counties formed the blocs to spur economic growth within the respective regions through policy harmonisation and resource mobilisation.
“A regional economic bloc shall have as its objects the diversification and facilitation of trade and production of goods and services amongst member counties, the simplification and standardisation of trade information between the member counties and the promotion of competition and market efficiency,” the Bill states.