Kisumu, Busia, Siaya counties form regional economic bloc

Three counties from western Kenya have formed an economic bloc to boost trade in the region.

Kisumu, Busia and Siaya county governments yesterday agreed to enter into a partnership aimed at accelerating the pace of their economic growth.

Deputy governors Ruth Odinga (Kisumu), Ouma Onyango (Siaya) and Kizito Wangalwa (Busia) led a delegation from the three counties comprising county assembly and executive members while representatives from the chamber of commerce and the business community from the three counties were also present.

The consultative meeting held in Kisumu was dubbed Regional County Forum on Trade and Investment and it was organised by a Canada’s Society for International Development (SID). The attendees discussed ways to expedite formation of the trading bloc and county officials harmonised modalities to guide the partnership.

While the three county administrations are yet to sign a memorandum of understanding and establish a secretariat that will form the basis of their working together, yesterday they identified priority areas which include establishing a fish processing plant, a cotton ginnery, a regional bank and developing legislation to govern the inter-county trade.

Inter-county trade

“Our economy is interdependent and we cannot enjoy the fruits of devolution if we do not engage in inter-county trade. We must enjoy the economy of scale it brings about,” Ms Odinga said.

SID’s Inter County Planning and Investment Project Manager Mary Muyonga said the county governments had previously agreed to jointly contribute Sh300 million to jump start the initiative.

“We have established an action plan which includes resource mobilisation based on each county’s competitive advantage and endowment with natural resources. These will be streamlined by legislation jointly developed by the county assemblies,” she said.

The move comes as the bid to form another economic bloc comprising 10 counties from the region is in the pipeline amidst fears that some county governments have backed down.

“We want to create markets for our goods and enhance value addition for our products. We will also ensure food security through revamped agriculture,” Onyango said.

Wangalwa said the three counties made the agreement because they have much in common.

“We want to promote tourism under the western circuit banner and jointly maximize utilisation of Lake Victoria to benefit our residents,” he said.