Taita Taveta to showcase its vast investment options in trade fair

Elephants at a water pand in Tsavo East National Park in Tsavo Conservation Artea in Taita-Taveta County.  [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]

Taita Taveta County will showcase its vast land, mineral deposits, tourism sites and freshwater bodies during its trade fair slated for next month.

On Wednesday Governor Andrew Mwadime said they have huge ranches for livestock production and leather making, lakes Challa, Jipe, and spectacular Mzima and Njoro springs for agricultural, industrial and domestic use.

He said the county has no huge industry despite being endowed with enormous resources like minerals and water bodies.

In his plan, Mr Mwadime seeks investors to develop the leather industry, precious and industrial minerals like iron ore and gemstones to benefit residents.

Records from the Ministry of Mining show about 70 per cent of gemstone mining is carried out in the region but taken outside the county for processing and value addition.

A recent survey indicated that Taita Taveta is also endowed with more than 485 types of industrial minerals and another 197 of semi-precious nature.

“The county is also rich in leather industry, precious and industrial minerals like iron ore, precious gemstones, and water bodies, benefiting outsiders at the expense of the locals,” he said.

On agriculture, the county, which is dependent on rain-fed agriculture has over the years been the bread basket for the Coast, but effects of climate change have hit most farmers.

The governor said the county boasts 33 community ranches with over 1.2 million acres of land, which have not fully been harnessed for sustainable development.

“There is also potential in the hides and skin industry with over 1 million acres’ potential in ranching and there will be a market for our livestock once the conference ends. The region is a disease-free zone,” said Mwadime.

On tourism, the county is home to the vast Tsavo National Park, which constitutes about 62 per cent of total land area comprising Tsavo East and West National parks.

Tsavo habours the big five wild animals. The county is also rich in unexploited battlefield tourism as the First World War was fought in the region.

On November 26, 2022, Mwadime launched the World War I (1914-1918) Memorial Museum Leadership and Innovation Institute (WWOMMELII) at Maktau during WWI Commemorations.

Last week, the administration and national government agreed to construct an industrial and aggregation park at Manga Triangle, along the busy Nairobi-Mombasa Highway.

The mega project will cost Sh500 million, with the two levels of government each contributing Sh250 million, according to Youth and Sports executive Shedrack Mutungi.

“The project would be for value addition of natural resources to help create wealth,” said Mutungi last week.

Mutungi said the project will create employment and stimulate domestic and foreign investments, skills, and technological transfer in management, marketing, and production technology to locals.

The former county administration allocated the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) over 240 acres of land to put up the special economic processing zone.

“Sadly, despite all the available natural resources, like being third in terms of natural resources, we lie bottom in poverty levels rankings. There is no single industry here,” said Mwadime.

But the governor said the county's future looks bright and more sustainable if the available resources are tapped and managed well for the benefit of the locals.

The current administration hopes to use the conference to market the areas to investors to invest in agro-processing, manufacturing, textile, motor vehicle assembling, and leather industries. 

“The conference will help in unlocking the high potential in mining and agricultural production sectors as the county and residents will directly talk to investors instead of brokers,” said Mwadime.

Mwadime said the conference will stimulate domestic and foreign investments in the region, whose larger land mass is categorised as arid and semi-arid land (ASAL).