The six Coastal counties have resolved to pool resources and end perennial hunger and joblessness in the region.
Yesterday, Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), Fahim Twaha (Lamu), Deputy Governor Majala Mlaghui (Taita Taveta) and representatives of Tana River counties revived the unity of the six counties.
Under the the Coast economic bloc, Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP), the governors vowed to put aside political differences, invest in agriculture and the blue economy, to solve problems faced by their people.
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The governors attending the second Jumuiya Agribusiness and Investment Conference at a resort in Malindi, Kilifi County, announced that the economic bloc had received Sh2.5 billion from the European Union (EU) to fund blue economic projects under the Go Blue programme.
“We want to tell critics that the train has already left the station. The blue economy and agribusiness projects are going to touch the lives of the people at the Coast,” said Mr Mvurya.
Devolution Chief Administrative Secretary Hussein Dado noted that although JKP was the first regional bloc to be launched in the country, it had been overtaken by the Lake Regional Economic Bloc. He attributed this to past differences between Joho and national government.
“JKP programmes may have been slowed down by the past differences between the Mombasa governor and national government leaders,” he explained. Mr Dado is a founder member of JKP, which was formed in 2015.
Dado pledged the ministry’s commitment to resources for the JKP through the public-private sector partnerships (PPP).
At the same time, Joho, Kingi and Mvurya used the forum to champion for land reforms, which they said would empower locals economically.
Kingi said unless national and county governments expedited the issuance of title deeds to the locals, Coast residents would continue to face difficulties in accessing capital for businesses.
“We need to urgently resolve the problem of access to land because it is difficult for squatters to invest. Residents cannot use land as collateral to access capital for their businesses. Without land you cannot invest in the sky,” Kingi argued.
Mvurya said it was crucial that the region ensures residents get title deeds to aid investment. “As a region, it is important that our people get title deeds. It is good that we enjoy the goodwill of the president,” he said.
Twaha cited high interest rates by financial institutions and high cost of energy, which he said should be addressed to attract investments.
Italian Ambassador to Kenya Alberto Pierre expressed support for the Go Blue projects, saying his government would fund a major infrastructure project at Ngomeni in Malindi, and which would include the fisheries sector.
“We are going to fund an infrastructure project at Ngomeni and support the blue economy,” said the envoy.