President Ruto's bag of goodies for Western

President William Ruto flanked by a section of Western political leaders during Kakamega International Investment conference at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology on March 20, 2029. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The government has released Sh5.8 billion for the construction of the stalled Kakamega Gold Refinery in Ikolomani constituency.

Speaking after officially opening the Kakamega International Investment Conference (KAIICO) yesterday, President William Ruto said works on the refinery plant will resume "any time from now."

The county's four-day inaugural conference is being held at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST).

"The government has released Sh5.8 billion for the construction of the gold refinery. This will enable Kakamega to mine and process the precious mineral locally and only take it to the market after value addition," said Ruto.

"We want to get  value for every coin we spend and for us to spur the growth of the county economy, we must make meaningful investments whose impact will be felt by everybody," he added.

Gold in Kakamega was discovered along the Lirhanda corridor which was found to have 1.31 million ounces of gold deposits valued at Sh171 billion by by Acacia Mining, a British company that undertook exploration in the area.

Lirhanda corridor stretches from Kakamega through Vihiga, Siaya, Busia, and Kisumu counties. 

Shanta Gold, an East Africa-based gold producer, and explorer had indicated that there are gold deposits estimated to be worth 2 billion US dollars along the Kakamega-Busia gold belt, which covers at least 1,160 square kilometers.

Ruto was accompanied by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Trace Cabinet Secretary Rebbecca Miano her Mining counterpart Salim Mvurya, and host Governor Fernandes Barasa.

Others were Governors Paul Otuoma (Busia) and Wilber Ottichilo (Vihiga). 

The President announced that the government has released Sh2.5 billion towards completion and equipping of the Vihiga granite factory.

“The factory that is being constructed on a five-acre parcel of land will see more than 1,000 people get direct jobs and create 3,000 indirect jobs once it starts crushing stones for granite,” said Ruto, adding that instead of Kenya being a net importer, the county will soon be exporting granite products in the region.

According to data, Vihiga is endowed with many stones that can be crushed for more than 20 years.

The Head of State said that in order to attract investors to Kakamega, construction of a Sh10 billion power transmission line is underway from Kibos in Kisumu county to Kakamega with several substations.

"We want to ensure we have reliable electricity in Kakamega. We are at the final stages of the project under the public-private partnership. This will stabilise power supply in the county and the region at large," he said.

"We want to bring investments in our counties and make them a destination for investments. We are moving from being counties of immense potential by harnessing it," he added.

Mudavadi said that time has come for counties to make meaningful investments to improve the living standards of the people.

"We cannot cry out of poverty, we must work ourselves out of poverty. We must stop crying and do what is right," he said adding that lawmakers, at the national and county assemblies should always work on supportive legislation to spur economic growth.

"We have 72 factories owned by Kenya Tea Development Authority nationally but in Western, with the same rain like that in Nandi with 7 tea factories, Kericho with 8 factories and Kisii with many but in Western, we have only one," added the Prime Cabinet Secretary

Ms Miano said the government was opening up counties as new frontiers for economic development.

Governor Barasa said: "We believe production at the grassroots is important to achieve our economic potential."