Beehive of activity as Sh207 billion African Economic Zone project kicks off in Uasin Gishu

Workers at Africa Economic Zone at Kipchamo in Uasin Gishu County. The Sh207 billion projects has created jobs for many residents. [Silah Koskei, Standard]
The fortunes of the residents of five areas are set to change because of a special economic zone.

Villages in Kipchamo, Cheptiret, Ngeria, Plateau and Chepkero have started coming alive as the construction of the Sh207 billion Africa Economic Zone (AEZ) advances.

Excavators are gravelling and expanding roads in readiness for the AEZ expected to be an industrial and tourism hub in North Rift.

Due to the project initiated by businessman David Langat, the price of land has shot up from as low as Sh500,000 an acre to about Sh80 million.

The project, sitting on 700 acres, was launched by Deputy President William Ruto in July last year after the AEZ was granted a licence to operate in Kenya.

A special economic zone (SEZ) is an area in which trade laws are different from those of the rest of the country. SEZs are meant to increase trade and investment. They are also meant create jobs and improve administration.

Businesses are encouraged to set up in a SEZ by special financial policies on investment, taxation, trading, quotas, and customs and labour regulations.

The companies may be offered tax holidays, where after establishing in a zone, they are granted a period of lower taxation. Countries also encourage SEZs to attract foreign investment.

There is heightened activity as the county government works to create an enabling environment.

It has been improving roads and connecting the region to electricity and internet ahead of the establishment of major industries in the AEZ. 

"We are focused on implementation. We are done with fencing and some temporary structures and we are now constructing the gate, which should be ready by December before the next phase of the project starts," said Mr Langat.

Phase one will see the creation of an industrial park with businesses ranging from agro-processing, machinery, engineering, electronics, ICT and pharmaceuticals.

Six companies

“Our engineers have done well despite the heavy rains. At the moment, we have six companies which are ready to set up factories here. This will create many jobs. We have employed 300 residentsand many others will be recruited,” said Lagat.

Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno said the county was working with the national government to increase water.

"There is a need for reliable supply of water to ensure the project succeeds. That is why we will work with the national government to ensure the completion of Kerita dam. We also hope there will be skills transfer to our people from the Chinese investment," Mr Chemno said yesterday.

Mr Elijah Tanui, a local businessman, said: "We are happy that this project will put our region on the world map. This will attract more investors and we are confident it will improve our economy, especially through job creation."

The project is near Eldoret International Airport. The railway also passes through the area.

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Africa Economic ZoneUasin Gishu CountyDeputy President William RutoDeputy Governor Daniel Chemno