Coast residents could soon regain lost port business after President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the establishment of Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone in Mombasa County on Friday.
The Dongo Kundu SEZ in Likoni, Mombasa, which is designed to be a multisectoral zone, comprises industrial parks, free trade zones/free port, Dongo Kundu port, tourism zone, business service parks and commercial and residential zone.
The SEZ will be developed in three phases, with the first phase expected to be ready by 2023.
It is projected to inject into the Kenya economy Sh400 billion in local and foreign direct investments and create more than 100,000 jobs.
Speaking during the ceremony, President Kenyatta said the project will herald a milestone transformation in the coastal region and will further promote the “Buy Kenya, Build Kenya” philosophy.
“Establishment of special economic zones will see Kenya become self-sufficient in industrial goods that currently consume most of the country’s foreign exchange. For a long time, the country has depended on imported goods, hence developing other parts of the world,” President Kenyatta said.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has been at the forefront in pushing for realisation of the project as an alternative to the lost port business, following the government’s investment in the standard gauge railway (SGR), which has resulted in reduced port business for trucker and container freight stations.
“We now need to start seeing local manufacturers and traders leveraging on the improving business environment in the country to maximise production of goods, especially for export markets, so as to create jobs,” Mr Kenyatta said.
He said the Dongo Kundu SEZ will create direct jobs for more than 100,000 people and is expected to not only transform the economy of the coast region but also of the whole country and region.
The President, who was accompanied by a host of Coast leaders led by Mr Joho and Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, also launched the construction of the second phase of the Dongo Kundu Bypass that will connect the South Coast to the island.
“Dongo Kundu SEZ is now going to be a reality. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs. It is now our responsibility as leaders to ensure this dream is realised,” Mr Joho said.
Meanwhile, President Kenyatta has urged Kenyans to support the vaccination of schoolgirls against the virus that causes cervical cancer.
The government has started rolling out the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine that will see over 800,000 girls vaccinated against the disease.
The President said HPV vaccine is crucial in the fight against cancer of the cervix. “Please let us not fight science. Let us work together, answer questions from an intellectual point of view. Let us talk and agree because we all mean and want the same thing — a bright and prosperous future for our children,” President Kenyatta said.
While launching the vaccine project at Ziwani Primary School in Mombasa, President Kenyatta termed the launch a major milestone in the fight against non-communicable diseases, especially cervical cancer.
“If diagnosed early, two thirds of cervical cancer cases can be managed and more lives saved,” he said.
Archbishop Martin Kivuva of Mombasa Catholic Diocese defended the Catholic Health Commission’s earlier concern over the safety of the vaccine. “We wanted certainty that the side effects are not dangerous,” he said.