Coast to host investment conference
By Patrick Beja
Coast MPs and professionals have organised the first ever investment conference, to showcase opportunities available in the region and boost the struggling economy.
The Coast Parliamentary Group (CPG) and the Coast People’s Forum will host the Coast Investment Conference at Travellers Beach hotel on
January 22 to 23, to unlock the development potential in a region plagued with hunger and grinding poverty.
The Coast Province Investment Conference Chairman, Mr Fred Mweni, said they have partnered with the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) to organise the event, which will be presided over by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
"This is the first ever such forum to be organised by leaders and professionals from the province. More than 250 participants will attend the two-day conference, which will cover several topics, including investment opportunities in agriculture, tourism and mining, among others," said Mweni, who is also the managing director of Tsavo Securities Limited.
Conference participants will include leading investors at the Coast, potential investors across all industries, Coast leaders and key Government officials.
Briefing the press, Mweni said it was surprising that despite its enormous resources, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Coast was only Sh6 billion, compared to Nairobi’s Sh30 billion. He called for more investment in the Coast to address the situation.
Coast province has vast un-used fisheries, huge mineral resources, and harbours the potential to produce commercial sugarcane, particularly in Ramisi and the Tana Delta.
Mumias Sugar Company and Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (Tarda) plan to invest Sh24 billion in a sugar project in the Tana Delta, while Kwale International Sugar Company is developing a Sh20 billion sugar project in Kwale.
The Government is also planning to develop a second port in Lamu district.
The CPG vice chairman and Malindi MP, Gideon Mung’aro said parliamentarians from the region have donated Sh500, 000 to support the conference, which is backed by Coast Development Authority (CDA) and Tarda.
"As MPs in this region, we appeal to the business community and investors to support this special conference," said Mung’aro.
CPG treasurer, Hassan Joho, secretary, Dan Mwazo and members Thomas Mwadeghu, and Omar Zonga, attended the meeting held at Mombasa club.
The conference is dubbed "Harnessing Coastal Resources for Socio-Economic Development Towards Vision 2030."
Mung’aro said CPG has met President Kibaki and the prime minister to appeal for increased funding for the CDA, which gets only about Sh43 million budget a year.
He, further challenged CDA, which covers most of Coast province, to partner with investors and establish income generating projects to boost its revenues.
The conference will showcase investment opportunities, create linkages between communities and attract capital for projects in the region.
Among the projects being targetted is Coast fisheries, which is one of the most underdeveloped sectors in the province.
The marine fish landings stand at only 7,000 metric tonnes a year, against a potential of 200,000 metric tones, valued at more than Sh10 billion.
The leaders are also urging the Government to invest in a fish port in Lamu district with adequate infrastructure that can handle upto 500 fishing vessels per day to fully exploit the region’s fish potential.
Last April, the Prime Minister launched the national oceans and fisheries policy to boost the Coast fisheries.
The new policy requires Sh4.5 billion be set aside every year, for the next three years, in order to develop the required infrastructure.
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