Kisumu secures land for special economic zone

Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o. [File, Standard]
Kisumu County has identified approximately 10,000 acres of land in Miwani for a special economic zone (SEZ).

The SEZ is projected to address private sector constraints such as the cost of energy, limited transport linkages, market access and bureaucracy.

Governor Anyang Nyong’o said the availability of commercial land for establishment of the SEZ will help spur the lakeside city’s industrial growth.

“The SEZ will provide more land for small and large scale industrial development, create jobs in skilled sectors and encourage knowledge transfer to bolster growth,” he said

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He also cited the challenges that will require immediate intervention on the land.

“The onsite terrain at the proposed land is flat and the black cotton soil will require significant investments in a drainage system,” said Prof Nyong’o at a pre-feasibilty investment conference at a Kisumu hotel.

He said there will be need for significant investment in offsite infrastructure, particularly access roads.

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So far, Nyong’o disclosed, the county has partnered with the World Bank and its affiliate, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to help effect the SEZ.

“This partnership is key to the project as it will also support a strategic planning process to guide conceptualisation of the proposed developments,” said the governor.

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Part of this partnership entails IFC support for a more detailed feasibility assessment and market trend and demand analysis for the site, in the Greater Lakes region and beyond.

Feasibility studies

The SEZ is expected to, among other issues respond to demand from specific companies for the services of a zone.

“We are encouraged that IFC has since engaged PwC India to undertake pre-feasibility studies, market demand analytics and demand forecasts,” Nyong’o said.

This includes the sector prioritisation and assessment of economic and commercial viability of Kisumu Miwani SEZ and sustainability of the project.

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“This feasibility financing support will focus the SEZ around two to three high-level goals of the zones which will help catalyse business value chain growth,” the governor said.

Before its launch last year, a number of challenges played part in the delay to actualise the Kisumu SEZ, key among them being acquisition of adequate land.

Most of the land in the appointed site either belonged to private entities or was owned by the government but in use.

With the support of the national government, Kisumu County Government decided to explore alternative options for the SEZ. 

The government says it will proceed with its plan to build the SEZ in Muhoroni Constituency despite opposition from a section of the locals.

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Industrialisation Principal Secretary Francis Owino said they will go ahead with the plan since the project is economically viable.

“For us to transform Kisumu to move to a newly industrialised county we must enlighten people to embrace the SEZ,” Owino told The Standard.

The PS said the SEZ is a highly regarded investment that will facilitate foreign direct investments to Kenya and that they will not allow critics to hinder its benefits.

Nyong’o said energy, for instance, has been a major impediment of industrial growth in the region.

“Kisumu has largely been dependent on the unreliable energy supply from the Sondu Miriu hydro plant. This has been a single line that is prone to disruptions, besides being inadequate,” he said.

Kenya Transmissions Company is currently building a 4000-kilovolt ring around the region.

This involves the construction of a transmission line from Olkaria geothermal plant through Lesos and the proposed SEZ to terminate at Mamboleo.

The line will then join the hydro line from Sondu Miriu to create a redundancy measure.

On water, there has been heightened activity within government circles to bring to realization the Koru-Soin Multi Purpose dam.

‘’This project will answer to the water demands  around the SEZ and the greater region besides being a major factor of agro-production," he observed.

The SEZ sits at a vantage position ringed around by developed road networks, an international airport and now, a port that will open the gateway to the regional markets.

This will equally improve access to raw materials.’’ I am confident that the feasibility study will find that market access will be the least of the worries from Kisumu here.’’

‘’When I was the minister for Economic Planning, we developed a policy paper called ‘Economic Strategy for Wealth Creation and Employment,’”  Nyong’o said.

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Kisumu Countyspecial economic zoneSEZ