Ukambani counties to own a bank under economic bloc to help boost trade in the region

Makueni County Governor Kivutha Kibwana chats with Kitui County Governor Charity Ngilu and Machakos County Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua during their meeting at ABC Bomani in Machakos town. [John Muia/Standard]

Three Ukambani counties are planning to set up a regional bank to boost trade and spur economic growth.

According to the counties, under South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (Sekeb), the bank will create employment opportunities for residents as well as offer cheap loans to local traders.

Governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) said they would work together to revive Sekeb, which has been dormant since 2016.

They noted that through joint efforts under the bloc, they would be able to create more wealth and job opportunities for residents.

The county bosses said they would continue pulling resources together to capitalise on economies of scale to attract trade and investment to spur economic growth as per Sekeb's initial plan.

Timely idea

They spoke in Kitui yesterday during a forum that brought together business people and professionals to discuss opportunities to be brought about by Sekeb.

The governors termed the move a timely idea.

"The bank will be a non-political entity to offer cheap credit to our people. We also want to jointly create markets for our goods, enhance value addition and ensure food security by revamping agriculture," said Ms Ngilu.

She added: "Our economic bloc will focus on addressing our unique challenges. Part of the solution include establishment of a regional bank. This is because we have continued to rely institutions that do not appreciate our unique challenges."

Dr Mutua said one of the challenges they were looking into was erratic rainfall that had affected food production.

"We already have all the basic factors of production - capital, labour and technology. We therefore call upon all leaders, churches and professionals to join the initiative without minding their religious and political affiliations so that together, we can find solutions to our problems. Let us speak in one voice as the Kamba community,” said Mutua.

Prof Kibwana said: "We have come together because we have a lot in common. Through Sekeb, we want to promote trade and grow wealth for our people. We will remain united and work together on all initiatives we have discussed and ensure our people fully benefit from our resources."

He said their aim was to liberate the people of Ukambani from marginalisation, poverty and dependency.

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