North Rift counties form regional bloc to boost trade, tourism
By Michael Ollinga
| June 12th 2015
Governors from seven counties in Rift Valley have agreed to work together to improve trade, investments and tourism in the region.
The trade bloc is also expected to harmonise tourism activities in the region as the devolved units seek to elevate the sector to world-class standards.
The county chiefs said the move has been necessitated by the fact that the counties face common challenges such as border conflicts and cattle rusting, among others, that often scare away investors.
The trade pact was arrived at after a three-hour meeting at Boma Inn Hotel in Eldoret on Tuesday evening attended by governors Simon Kachapin (West Pokot), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Benjamin Cheboi (Baringo), Josphat Nanok (Turkana), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu ) and Cleophas Lagat (Nandi).
Governor Mandago said they will first focus on tourism sector, as it cuts across all counties, with emphasis on lakes and river basins that can also be harnessed for irrigation.
He said the seven counties also intend to harmonise trade and other investment policies to facilitate trade activities across the region with an ultimate goal of making it a business hub. "We will come up with inter-county tariffs that will make it conducive for trade partners, both local and international, to operate in this new economic hub that will hugely benefit the region and the country at large," said Mandago.
Governor Cheboi his county, especially, has been hard hit by resource-related conflicts in the recent past and expressed optimism that operating as a regional trade bloc would empower the locals and avert similar occurrences in future.
"Working as a unit is an idea whose time has come. We are facing various challenges and if we support each other, it will be easy to overcome our limitations and boost trade and tourism in this region," said Cheboi.
Tolgos said the region's economy will get a major boost when the economic bloc is finally actualised, with also a possibility of using it to market the area's trade and investment opportunities. He added that the region had massive resources which, if utilised well, can transform the lives of residents.
The launch of the trading bloc comes just one week after Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) announced plans to work with nine counties in Rift Valley to revive as well as expand wildlife conservancies to boost tourism.
"We engaged the leadership of these counties and they have formed a secretariat that we will be working with to establish huge conservancies and tourists' attraction centres," said David Kimosop, KVDA Managing Director.
KVDA is to plan, initiate, co-ordinate and monitor implementation of programmes and projects that transcend administrative boundaries within its area of operation.
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