Last week, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui was among three Kenyans who won prestigious African Magazine Leadership Awards 2020.
The editorial board of the Africa Leadership magazine also picked KenGen CEO Rebecca Miano as the winner in the African Inspirational Business Leadership Award category. The runners-up in this category was Hassanein Hiridjee, CEO of Axian Group in Madagascar.
James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Group Holdings, won the African CEO of the Year category ahead of Mauricio Alarcon, former CEO of Nestle Nigeria Plc.
Mr Kinyanjui was declared winner in the Business-Friendly Governor of the Year category.
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The first-term governor beat David Makhura of South Africa Gauteng Province Premier to scoop the prestigious the award.
The award recognises a state or regional governor across African countries.
It also promotes a governor able to drive investment into his state or region remarkably.
When Kinyanjui took over power from his predecessor Kinuthia Mbugua in 2018, he promised to make the county a preferred investment destination after Nairobi.
His first key event was an International Investment Conference just a month after he was sworn into office.
The Nakuru International Investment Conference attracted more than 2,000 local and foreign investors to the lake side town of Naivasha where the county marketed itself by showcasing opportunities in green energy, horticulture, tourism and general agriculture.
Although critics termed the investment conference that consumed more than Sh30 million of tax-payers money a waste of funds, Kinyanjui maintained that his dream was to make Nakuru an investment destination of choice in the region.
With an estimated investment opportunities standing at over Sh200 billion, the governor's key agenda was to reduce the cost of doing business for both micro and mega entrepreneurs seeking to tap the county's huge potential.
This saw an influx of manufacturing firms into the county, like the consumer goods producer BIDCO Africa Group which unveiled a Sh21 billion ultra-modern animal feed plant in the town’s Industrial Area.
Last year, another multinational animal feeds maker Maxim Agri-International set up a Sh1 billion factory at Oserian Two Lakes Industrial Park in Naivasha.
Kinyanjui’s election coincided with some key events in the county that helped in its rapid economic growth. A recent survey on the Gross County Product by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics had stunning revelations to the effect that Nakuru is the second biggest economy after Nairobi, ahead of bigger cities like Mombasa and Kisumu.
The African Leadership Magazine that awarded Kinyanjui the 2020 Africa’s Business Friendly Governor prize, credited him for reducing tax burden for businesses.
Before the award, Kinyanjui’s administration had passed into law the Nakuru County Enterprise Fund Bill, among other legislation.
According to the magazine, the county has addressed challenges faced by manufacturers and provided legal frame work for the county government to work with the private sector and small and medium sized enterprises.
By awarding the governor, the board placed a high premium on the county government’s efforts and commitment to ensure SMEs in the county grow and transit from informal businesses to big firms.
The county chief acknowledges the role played by SMEs in the economy of many African countries and thanked African Leadership Magazine for recognising the county’s efforts to support small enterprises.
“There is a compelling lesson to institute business principles in management of public affairs. The excuse of accepting lower service standards in public service is outdated and retrogressive," Kinyanjui said.