The highly anticipated Trans Nzoia Investment Conference and Expo kicked off in earnest at the Kitale Club grounds as thousands of people including leaders from different parts and delegates flocked the venue to experience diverse business opportunities and experiences.
Five governors led by the chairman of the council of governors Peter Munya of Meru, Jackson Mandago of Uasin Gishu, Ken Lusaka of Bungoma, Simon Kachapin of West Pokot and Alex Tolgos of Elgeyo Marakwet were among the many leaders who joined their host Patrick Khaemba to mark the launch of the three day conference.
In their speeches the governors appealed to investors to invest in Trans Nzoia bearing in mind the many advantages encountered in the county including the topography, the weather and proximity to other counties and countries.
In his speech, Munya who was the chief guest in the opening ceremony raised a number of issues that should be addressed by the national government to enable a conducive environment for investors in the counties.
He pointed out several government bodies including National Environment Management authority – NEMA and the National Construction Authority which he said have become a stumbling block to investors who have intentions of investing in counties.
“There is another institution that has come up in the name of National Construction Authority that I even don’t know where it derives its mandate in the constitution but it is asking for a certain percentage of money from investors before they are allowed to put up buildings in the counties hence scaring majority of investors,” said Munya.
Munya further added that Kenya Power Company has also caused inconsistencies in running of businesses due to regular power shortages and blackouts that he said the national government should address to ensure that counties’ businesses and other investments flow smoothly without hurdles.
Munya at the same time appreciated the introduction of devolution which he said is the best thing that the new constitution brought to Kenyans urging all Kenyans and stakeholders to support the full implementation of the new system of governance.
“Whatever challenges that we are experiencing in counties, let us never forget that the backbone of the stability and future development of this country depends on how effective we are in implementing the constitution,” Munya added.
The governors chair who is also the governor for Meru County also called upon the national government to release all functions and resources of devolved ministries pointing out that the counties are being starved of the funds to run certain ministries such as health and agriculture among others whose functions are devolved over 90 per cent yet over fifty per cent of the funds and other resources are still withheld at the national level.
Munya was supported by Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka who said that the counties are encountering difficulties in accomplishing functions of several ministries that were fully devolved hence the national government should release the funds that accompany the functions.
“You know we have been fighting and asking the national government that all the money of the functions that have been devolved be brought to the counties so that we implement most of these things because as we speak there are many things that are still being implemented at the national level yet they are devolved functions,” said Lusaka in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the conference.
Other governors including Mandago in their speeches called upon people who have business interests to invest in Trans Nzoia and the North Rift economic Bloc – region which they said has the potential of spurring economic growth through investments.
Mandago who is the chair of NOREB that brings together eight counties in the North Rift among them Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Baringo, Turkana, Nandi and Samburu said that the bloc is putting in place modalities to ensure an enabling environment for investors.
He revealed the counties are working on a plan to have a common taxation program whereby a business operator can use one license to operate in all the eight counties of the bloc without being taxed again.
Other governors including Lusaka, Kachapin and Tolgos revealed how they share a lot with the county of Trans Nzoia hence urged investors to flock the county to invest in various aspects of the economy including agriculture, tourism among others.
The hosting governor Patrick Khaemba said the county is rich in many aspects ranging from agriculture, tourism, water, infrastructure among others that he said investors can exploit.
In his speech Bungoma senator who is also senate minority leader Moses Wetangula pledged to support the full implementation of devolution and the constitution at large and urged Kenyans to support devolution which he said is the best system that shall transform the lives of Kenyans.
The forum which anticipated to be attended by over 3000 delegates both from local and international level was also attended by other leaders including senators Henry Ole Ndiema the host and nominated senator on KANU ticket Ziporah Kitonyi together with business-oriented personalities among them chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of commerce Kiprono Kitonyi and the CEO Matanda Wabuyele who shared different prospects of investments in Trans Nzoia and other counties.