Kisumu County is set to benefit from direct investments into the counties aimed at strengthening devolution in Kenya.
Governor Anyang’ Nyongó and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Mark Meassick on Tuesday penned a Memorandum of Understanding which would see direct engagement between the US and the devolved unit.
As opposed to previous models where the US would work with the national government in supporting investment in the country, the county government will have an opportunity to engage with the US in shared visions targeting the county.
“The United States is shifting the way we work. We want our programs to be co-created, co-implemented, and co-measured to address problems and solve them at the county level,” said Mr Meassick.
According to Meassick, the agreement will provide a framework to guide the new way the USAID and Kisumu County will do business together, including aligning activities, plans and budgets, designing new programs and working together to counter corruption and project beneficiaries.
In the new strategy, both the US and the county government will identify viable projects within the county, and negotiate the funding and the implementation model.
Both the US and the county government will have to commit to the projects, with the county government expected to embed their share of financing of the projects in its budget.
“Just like the US which has many states, the units are free to directly do business with other countries,” said Meassick.
He said USAID new policy is to end the need for foreign assistance by transforming the relationships between the public, civil society, and private sectors to generate opportunities for all Kenyans.
“We do not want our relationship to be transactional, where we only give money, but change it from aid to trade; bringing investors here, and opening the US market for products from here,” he said.
According to the Mission Director, Kenya only has 12 line products to supply in the US through African Growth and Opportunity Act AGOA, compared to South Africa, which has 47 products, yet Kenya has the potential for more.
Nyongó said Kisumu had great potential for Agriculture, and Health which are underexploited, an area which is expected to receive a big boost with the new agreement.
“We have sugarcane, cotton, and rice which needs to be revived. We can even export cloths to the US,” said Nyongó.
He noted that the new relationship was a show of confidence that the US has on devolution, and must be tapped.