Western counties review laws in line with new economic bloc

Western region governors when they launched regional economic development bloc. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Western region governors when they launched regional economic development bloc. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Counties in the Western region have begun to amend their  laws and policies to accommodate financiers and boost cross-county investment in the newly formed Lake Region Economic Development bloc.

The bloc seeks to accelerate regional development through increased investments in key sectors such as agriculture, clean water and health.

To encourage participation of the private sector, the counties have agreed to craft and adopt uniform policies.

Kakamega Governor and Chairman of the group Wycliffe Oparanya says the devolved units will need to ride on investors to finance key projects. “Such funding will enable us support agriculture through financing agricultural commodities exchange,” said Mr Oparanya.

“Counties are units of development but are too small to leverage on the economies of scale and facilitate development.”

On Monday, 14 governors from Nyanza, western and parts of Rift Valley signed a deal to create the bloc meant to pool resources in order to speed up development.

One of the structures to be created is a development bank which requires at least Sh2.8 billion as seed money by October.

In Kakamega, the county is implementing an electronic tax system that Mr Oparanya hopes could be replicated across the bloc so that traders can easily file their permit applications or pay parking fees.

In Busia, Governor Sospeter Ojaamong is betting on paving of roads to improve transport in the region.

The governors have agreed to invest more in research on climate change and ICT in order to get adequate knowledge for planning. 

The member counties are Kakamega, Kisumu, Bomet, Nandi, Kericho, Busia, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Siaya, Migori, Vihiga, Kisii, Homa Bay and Nyamira.

Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo said his administration had reached a deal with the Chinese Overseas Construction company (COVEC) to rehabilitate roads and set up street lights in the county as part of its social corporate responsibility.

“(COVEC) Agreed to provide feeder roads, street lighting and improve drainage systems in our major towns,” said Dr Ottichilo.

Further, Dr Ottichilo said he had reached out to Export Processing Zones (EPZ) to establish a processing plant at Kaimosi in Hamisi Sub County.

“The county government has already engaged the Friends Church to lease 30 acres of land to the county government,” said Dr Ottichilo.

“The EPZ plant will create employment for 10,000 people engaged in agro processing, skins and hides processing, value addition and promotion of cottage industries.”