The Star (Nairobi)

26 July 2014

Kenya: Kwale Eyes Tourism and Mining for Growth

The Kwale County investment forum is expected to attract Sh4 billion shillings of investment over a two to three year period, according to governor Salim Mvurya yesterday.

The news comes just days after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a raft of measures to develop the region, including the tarmacking of the Samburu-Kinango-Kwale road.

Although the forum will attract representatives of a number of sectors, mining and tourism are expected to have the greatest impact in the region.

"There are a lot of partnerships that the county has proposed", said Mike Macharia, CEO of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers. "The security situation is temporary. If an investor is looking for a long term investment then the threat will pass."

Amongst plans to woo investors in sectors such as solar energy, property and agri-business, is a new approach to land. Parcels of land with long leases that are not currently being exploited will not be renewed, in order to free up land for businesses.

The governor also announced that education and skills-training is a "key priority", to both encourage investment and combat poverty.

In order to achieve this, Kwale will hire 450 Early Childhood Development (EDC) teachers, as well as spend Sh220 million on affirmative action policies and bursaries. Businesses operating in Kwale County have also been asked to put resources into education.

Mvurya also announced his wish to streamline the county's investment policy.

"We would like to digitise the county, and that is why one of the things we have mentioned is ICT parks", Mvurya said. "We will also be creating business information centres to create a network of small and medium size businesses."

The forum, to be held in the last week of August, will see 300 potential investors from over 40 countries gather in the county.

Pinpointing his plans for the medium term, Mvurya said: "If you look at the 5 years of our county, and you cost everything that we have to do then we have a deficit of Sh15 billion. That Sh15 billion is what we would like to raise from donors, grantees and from investment."

The governor has called on the treasury to be more consistent with disbursements, calling the allocation of funds in the last financial year "erratic".

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