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Kisumu eyes business deals as it readies for Africities conference

Governor Anyang Nyong’o speaks at a conference on the Africities Summit, on March 8. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Kisumu government has started decongesting the city ahead of the ninth Africities Summit set for May 17-21.

More than 8,000 local and international delegates are expected.

A spot check by The Standard yesterday showed some of the delegates had started streaming to the lakeside city ahead of the conference set to attract a number of heads of state and government.

Preparations for the event are in high gear. The county has also started barring matatus and tuktuks from accessing the CBD.

A contractor tasked with completing a key road leading to the venue in Mamboleo worked day and night to complete the Kisumu-Kakamega stretch whose construction has stalled for more than five years.

The county government in collaboration with the national government and donors has improved the city’s infrastructure and given it a new look. Governor Anyang Nyong’o, buoyed by strategic planning policies and designs, is striving to showcase Kisumu as an investment hub.

Some of the roads have been expanded while flowers have been planted along the streets. New lighting poles have also been installed.

The county has ordered all buildings in Kisumu CBD to be painted in uniform colour ahead of the conference. Kisumu is eyeing lucrative trade deals to breathe life into key sectors. The Standard has established that the devolved unit, as well as a number of government agencies, have developed business pitches for delegates.

With investments in trade, tourism, the blue economy and manufacturing potential, the region is optimistic about signing deals during the event expected to attract about 10,000 participants.

To make the city conducive for investments, the county has developed policies to transform Kisumu into a metropolis by 2040. Nyong’o’s critics have however poked holes in the build-up to the event which they claim has disrupted the lives of ordinary residents. The national government is keen to use the event to jump-start operations on a number of handshake projects, including the Kisumu-Nakuru meter gauge railway. This will be the second time Kenya hosts the Africities Conference after the fourth edition in Nairobi in 2006. 

Nyong’o says the forum will provide an opportunity for Kisumu to learn key lessons from other intermediary cities on the continent.

“The ninth Africities Summit presents a golden opportunity to showcase what devolution has achieved for Kenya. Kisumu is privileged to be a case study for participants to study the impact of devolution on our socioeconomic and political development.”

Aloice Ager, a member of the Africities Secretariat, said: “The conference will be the launch of Kisumu to international exposure for business.”

Businesses in the lakeside city are looking to rake in revenue during the week-long conference.

Almost all major hotels have been fully booked while taxi operators have also been incorporated to help ferry guests.