After several false starts, the North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB) is hoping to start work aimed at turning around the fortunes of eight Rift Valley counties.
Last year, the trading bloc was hindered by lack of a legal framework to guide its operations.
To avert another setback, the bloc -- which was established in 2015 as an economic zone among Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo and Samburu counties -- announced a raft of measures to ensure a smooth start of operations.
Governors from the region had held three meetings in 2019 under the chairmanship of Uasin Gishu County boss Jackson Mandago and had given July 2019 as the deadline to complete the draft of the Noreb Bill that would legalise the bloc’s operations, but that was not to be.
Yesterday, Noreb Chief Executive Officer Dominic Biwott confirmed that a roadmap had been drawn for the economic bloc.
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Biwott, a former Nandi deputy governor, said the Noreb Bill and a joint livestock management Bill will be approved by all the eight regional assemblies in the first quarter of 2020.
“In the next three months, we intend to ratify the Noreb bill and a trans-boundary livestock disease policy because most of our communities are pastoralalists,” he said.
Among key partnership areas to be operationalised this year are the launch of the region’s economic blueprint and mobilisation of resources.
Biwott said mapping out of tourist destination areas was being undertaken in partnership with the Tourism Fund.
“We expect to turn the North Rift into a tourist destination, and shift the focus from Maasai Mara and the Coast,” said Biwott.
Also listed as a key development agenda is cotton growing, coming in the wake of the revival of Rivatex textile factory in Eldoret in the last quarter of 2019.
The crop was abandoned in the 1990s.
Last June, after a two-day summit in Mombasa, the eight governors resolved to have their respective county assemblies ratify the Noreb Bill as soon as its drafting was concluded.
In 2018, the slow pace of enacting laws to actualise Noreb saw Nandi and Trans Nzoia counties shift to the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), which comprises Kakamega, Bomet, Bungoma, Homa Bay and Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Nyamira, Busia and Vihiga counties.
But Nandi Governor Stephen Sang maintained that his county will remain an active member of the two regional blocs.