Four Governors from the Lake Region Economic Bloc have outlined progress of four flagship projects which if implemented will spur the economy of the region.
Speaking after a historic address to the County Assembly of Busia on Wednesday, LREB chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya, Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o of Kisumu, James Ongwae (Kisii) and host Governor Sospeter Ojaamong said LREB is the new frontier for regional transformation.
H.E. Oparanya who is also the Kakamega Governor said among the projects to make the Bloc move to the next level includes LREB Bank which is at an advanced stage.
“We are already negotiating with a few banks and in the near future we would be making a bigger announcement which bank we will have agreed as summit to join as LREB.
The revival of sugar industry has been critical; we are grateful to President Uhuru Kenyatta in availing Sh1.9b to pay sugarcane farmers aimed at revival of the sugar sector.
On environment, H.E Oparanya said they want to restore forests including Mau forest and those within counties in order to conserve the environment for the future.
Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o said LREB and the National Government are partnering in Water Hyacinth Harvesting, dredging of Kisumu, rehabilitation and upgrading of Kisumu Port.
He said six major government parastatals including Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Airport Authority, Kenya Maritime Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority are interested in helping to remove water hyacinth out of the Lake to enable them earn revenue.
Prof Nyong’o said the LREB Governors are in support of three tier system of devolution including counties, national and regional governments.
H. E. Ojaamong said Busia opted to join the LREB to leverage on the economies of scale and to join forces in pushing for national government to include border counties on East African treaties, some of which impact negatively on border counties.
The Governor regretted that prices of basic commodities in neighbouring Uganda were three times cheaper than Kenya, thus affecting revenue generation in the county.
Governor Ongwae said they can’t stop thanking Busia for becoming the sixth county to pass the LREB Bill. He asked member counties to start putting resources since the regional bloc is now a reality.
Ongwae urged speakers from the member counties to ensure future budgets include county’s allocation towards establishment of the regional bank.
H.E. Oparanya said member counties’ commitment to the LREB Bank will hit Sh800m by the end of the current financial year.
Also present included Busia Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi, Speaker Bernard Wamalwa and representatives from all 14 member counties.