15 November 2018

Kenyan Counties to Anchor Growth in 'Inland Sea'

Lake Victoria, Africa's largest freshwater lake, is not being utilised fully as many marine vessels are grounded at its ports.

But this is likely to change after 14 Kenyan counties came together under the Lake Region Economic Bloc and identified the freshwater mass as key to reviving their economies.

In a draft policy paper, the counties want to develop better transport services, conserve marine wildlife and put idle land near the shores of the lake to good use.

A number of ships that used to ferry products around the three countries -- Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania -- that share the lake have been grounded for ages. This has reduced traffic on the lake. The available vessels are small ships or boats with poor safety records.

Reviving maritime transport

According to the bloc's acting chief executive Abala Wanga, they are working on reviving maritime transport and services by increasing the number of ships, boats and ferries to ease movement of goods and people in the lake.

This will be boosted by expansion of the Kisumu International Airport to incorporate a cargo division.

"The revival of maritime transport calls for infrastructure. We are waiting for the standard gauge railway to reach Kisumu and so we can use the opportunity to open up our region to trade with our East African neighbours," said Mr Wanga.

Through expansion of the airport, he added, horticultural produce will be transported to Entebbe, Mwanza and Bukoba.

The Lake Region Economic Bloc consists of 14 counties; Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans-Nzoia and Vihiga. Its objective is to legalised economies of scale using shared resources.

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