Speeches won’t turn around economy, action will

From left: Governors Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), James Ongwae (Kisii), Anyang Nyong'o (Kisumu) and Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) during the 5th KLREB summit at Siaya MTC on January 15, 2020. [Collins Oduor, Standard]
Under the Lake Region Economic Block (LREB) umbrella, 14 governors met in Siaya town Tuesday this week. Top on their agenda was the adoption of the recently approved variety of the BT Cotton, adoption of the Sugar Task Force’s report and ways of turning the region’s economic prospects around.

In part, devolution rode on the promise that each county would deal with its unique challenges. While this has borne fruit, the realisation that pooling resources would yield better results gave rise to regional economic blocks. But despite their potential are regular meetings, there is little evidence that they add value. Many risk being dismissed as mere talk shops for governors.

Adept at identifying problems, long on strategising, regional blocks’ meetings fall short on implementation.  Yet, implementation is of greater concern to taxpayers who need guidance. Fish trade, once a preserve of the lake region, is a pale shadow of its former self. Matters are not helped by cheap fish imports from China.

Sugar industries that once-upon-a time gave the region a steady supply of income are either completely dead or on their death beds. Sugar cane farmers are a disappointed lot. Indeed, many have opted for maize farming, but even there, there is little promise because cartels run the show. The death of Kisumu Cotton Mills in the 1990s meant cotton growing in the area lost its appeal.

Governors from the lake region should make conscious efforts to move away from bombast and put action where their mouths are. More talk, less action is not the way to put the region’s economy on its way to recovery.

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Lake Region Economic BlockLREBDevolutionEconomy