Pan Paper’s revival a boost for Bungoma

Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka

NAIROBI: Kenya’s development blueprint, Vision 2030-states that one of the primary engines of transforming the country into a middle-income economy is industrial revolution.

By modernising its roads, reducing energy costs to affordable levels, introducing business-friendly tax rates and administration, embracing cutting edge technology and instilling up-to-date knowledge to its population, the national government has so far managed to place Kenya’s economy on a clear manufacturing path.

It is through these efforts that, of late, the country has witnessed a surge in foreign investment flows, perhaps the second highest in the continent after South Africa. In fact, according to “FDI into Middle East and Africa” report, Kenya posted the fastest rise in foreign direct investments in Africa and the Middle East last year, creating thousands of new job opportunities. With increased political stability, there is little doubt that Kenya would soon displace South Africa from the top spot. However, such a development requires more energy expended in pro-business policies and solid management that will drive industries’ growth upwards.

It is natural that sound management is key to any business’ success. It is no wonder that Mumias Sugar almost went down on its knees recently due to leadership problems.

An almost similar case has been witnessed at the Pan Paper Mills in Webuye town, a once key source of employment for the people Bungoma County.

By going bust a few years back, the miller stained not only the economy of the country but also inflicted a lot of suffering to hundreds of households. The ever-full-of-life Webuye town was reduced into a lonely “village” town as most of its residents relocated to neighbouring towns and rural areas.

But come end of August 2016, the first phase of the resuscitation of Pan Paper mills will be realised. We expect the firm to initially absorb more than 1,500 workers. More people would likely be employed as the need arises. Besides creating jobs for the people of Bungoma County, the coming back to life of the factory sets pace for the rebirth of other businesses that had gone under; key among them the hospitality industry.

While the running of Pan Paper Mills is now purely private, the county government of Bungoma will endeavour to ensure that the company thrives, thus serving the interest of the residents. We will provide a conducive operating environment, technical expertise through relevant ministries if need be and extend any incentive to the firm to ensure that the miller returns back to life, fully.

All these will be in tandem with the county’s pro-investments policies, which seek to make Bungoma County a business hub in Western Kenya.

Indeed, my regime’s goal of transforming Bungoma’s investment profile has seen the county government inject millions of shillings in the construction of bridges and culverts, tarmacking of various roads in both rural and urban areas, purchasing of graders, tippers, rollers, a low loader and an excavator, all of which have helped to cut on the otherwise high costs of roads maintenance. Furthermore, this month’s tour by the president will see more roads launched, opening up Bungoma for further economic exploitation.

With the recent New Ford Kenya’s resolution to work closely with the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, we expect the national government to inject even more resources this financial year into the region to support the county government’s efforts in empowering the locals economically.

Certainly, this friendship is not ending any time soon. This is just a start. As we enter into a new political phase, with a new party known as Jubilee, Bungoma County stands at a prime position to develop further. This will only be a matter of time before this dream comes to a realisation.