Kakamega is the first of 14 counties to enact the Lake Region Economic Bloc law.
Governor Wycliffe Oparanya assented to the Bill yesterday. According him, the passage of the law authorised the county to legally participate in all the activities of the bloc.
“As the chairman of the bloc, I have led by example. I am appealing to other member counties to follow suit. As soon as six counties out of the 14 assent to the Bill, it will become binding to the other eight,” said Oparanya.
The other bloc members are Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga.
Oparanya said the bloc had earmarked reviving the ailing sugar industry, tea and fish farming, milk processing and maritime transport as priority areas in the first five years.
“The region has 14 million people who form a ready market for our produce,” he said.
Oparanya said the projects would be supported by a regional bank set to open in October. The bank is expected to extend loans to farmers and small business enterprises at a subsidised interest rate.
He announced that member counties had contributed initial capital of Sh2.8 billion, out of which Sh800 million was used on the regional bank.
“We shall make the bloc an attractive investment destination for local and foreign investors. Some development partners have shown an interest in supporting us,” he said.
Oparanya said the governors from the bloc met Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and came up with strategies to revive the sugar sector, adding that they would present the proposals to President Uhuru Kenyatta next month.
He said Mumias, Nzoia, Chemelil and Sony sugar companies were struggling because of lack of cane and operating capital and needed at least Sh1.4 billion to resume full operations.
The bloc’s chief executive officer, Abala Wanga, asked the other counties to adopt the law.