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Regional bloc smells the money as investors seek its potential

Thursday December 05 2019
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From left: Governors James Ongwae (Kisii), Wycliff Oparanya (Kakamega), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), John Nyangarama (Nyamira) and Joyce Laboso (Bomet) at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital during a Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) summit meeting in March. PHOTO | VITALIS KIMUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By VICTOR RABALLA
By DICKENS WASONGA

The fortunes of the 14-member Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) are looking up after more than 50 foreign investors expressed interest in setting up shop to drive the region’s growth plans.

The investors are looking to tap into the diverse potential of 14 counties, which have come together to leverage on the economies of scale and shared resources for the benefit of over 10 million residents.

This is the first time that delegates drawn from Africa, Asia and Europe are convening in the continent, said Green Teams Initiative chief executive officer Emmanuel Dennis.

“We have among us technocrats and investors who are running multi-billion companies in different countries around the world,” he said during a meeting at the Wigot Hotel in Kisumu yesterday.

The four-day meeting will see delegates being taken to different locations in the expansive region where they will visit and interact with local entrepreneurs.

“The opportunity is likely to create partnerships and support from various investors who have shown interest in putting up industries within the newly established economic zone,” said Mr Dennis.

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LREB, which was launched in 2015, brings together Kakamega, Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans-Nzoia and Vihiga counties.

With the expected launch of Kisumu Port and revival of train services, Mr Dennis pointed out that the region has a massive potential, capable of creating thousands of employment opportunities and boosting industrial development in the country.

“We want this initiative to be spearheaded by local businesses in order to create ownership as we seek to have sustainable plans for our environment and communities over 50 from now,” he said.

Western Kenya counties were banking on the establishment of a Sh2.8 billion regional bank to propel their development agendas but are yet to achieve this.

This happened even as lawmakers at the Siaya county assembly unanimously passed the LREB Bill which will anchor the operations of the 14-member bloc into law, bringing to ten the total number of counties that have passed the crucial bill.

Kisumu, Nyamira, Homa bay, Migori, Kisii, Busia, Vihiga, Kakamega and Trans Nzoia counties have all ratified the LREB Bill.

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