The long awaited summit by the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) is finally set to take place next week.
The conference, which has been postponed five times, is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Siaya County.
“The pre-summit activities will be held on January 14 and 15, the governors will have their Summit meeting,” read a statement shared with the press.
The meeting which was earlier planned to take place last Friday was cancelled due to the Building Bridges Initiative conference in Kisii County.
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The bloc consists of 14 counties including Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga.
Among key issues expected to be discussed at the fifth summit include the plan to establish a regional bank.
So far, the bloc has pooled Sh1.6 billion of the required Sh2.6 billion to establish the bank, with each of the member counties required to contribute Sh200 million. So far 10 counties have made their contributions – some in part.
There has been concern over delay to start the bank since 2015 when the regional bloc was formed.
The initial plan was to buy a majority stake in an existing bank and open the proposed regional bank by 2018 but this was shelved following delay by some counties to remit contributions.
However, LREB acting chief executive office Migiro Omwancha said their activities were going on as planned.
“What we have been doing as a regional bloc is to establish our operational instruments and ensure they are legally binding,” Omwancha said.
“The LREB Bill, 2019 which seeks to provide a legal framework for member counties on developing policies and programmes aimed at widening and enhancing cooperation in the economic, industrial, social, and technological and research fields has so far been passed by 10 counties,” he added.
There have been fears of cash crunch at the bloc, occasioned by a legal ceiling on its operations.
Despite half of the counties having passed the Bill to meet the legal threshold required to legitimise the bloc’s activities, it must first be gazetted.
However, LREB chairman and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has denied claims that the operations of the bloc had stalled, citing a forum of the task force on revival of the sugar industry hosted by LREB in November.