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County fast tracking operationalization of Lord Egerton Agro-Industrial Park

Nakuru County Government is fast tracking operationalization of Lord Egerton Agro-industrial Park to help promote investments and accelerate economic growth in the County and across the Country.

Trade, Culture, and Tourism County Executive Committee Member (CECM) Stephen Kuria said the County Aggregation Industrial Park (CAIP) and Export Processing Zone (EPZ) which have each been allocated 100 acres will sit on 250 acres at the University’s Ngongongeri farm in Njoro.

Kuria added that the County Government had already approved a policy document to establish and implement the County Aggregation Industrial Parks (CAIPS) and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) that will host a variety of industries, including agro processors, ICT hubs, energy-sector companies, engineering and construction firms and chemical industries.

Speaking after inspecting the proposed Lord Egerton Agro-industrial Park site, Kuria stated that Governor Susan Kihika’s administration was collaborating with the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry (MITI) to start CAIPS in line with the bottom-up economic transformation agenda.

Kuria, who was accompanied by his Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives counterpart Mr Leonard Bor and CECM in charge of Lands, Housing and Physical Planning Mr John Kihagi, revealed that the devolved unit was envisioning CAIPS and SEZs that would host light industries such as warehousing and logistics and supporting industries, medium and heavy industries such as manufacturers of fertilizers, iron and steel, plastics and packaging, and fabricated metal products.

The national government has set aside Sh4.7 billion for the construction of CAIPS in counties to promote manufacturing. Counties have committed contribute a similar amount to the project which is a partnership between the regional governments and the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, according to Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry principal secretary Mr Juma Mukhwana.

Each county is expected to contribute Sh250 million and provide a minimum of 100 acres of land for the establishment of the Parks towards the implementation of the project in the next financial year. This will be used to fund the provision of electricity, water, effluent management, internet, security and common transport. There will also be an online portal through which traders will find markets for their products, both locally and abroad.

“Once the parks are constructed, Equity Bank has promised to provide Sh250 billion to support the purchase of manufacturing equipment for industries willing to invest in the parks. This was after the government struck a deal with the lender,” Mukhwana further said.

Already, Sh100 million has been disbursed to Nakuru County for the construction of basic infrastructures. Other counties earmarked for the first phase of the project include Busia, Murang’a, Kakamega and Kirinyaga.

Kuria said besides expanding the devolved unit’s opportunities as an industrial and economic hub, the agro-industrial park will create employment opportunities, improve the livelihoods in agriculture dependent regions, reduce post-harvest losses, contribute to food security and accelerate economic growth in the country.

The architects of the plan estimate that more than 4,000 employment opportunities would be created with transformation in agriculture in the counties involved, with the development of the support infrastructure such as power, water and the park ring road having been put into the spatial plan.

The Trade, Culture, and Tourism CECM indicated that suitable infrastructure was expected to attract investors, state support, arrangement of logistics, and introduction of new technologies in the agricultural activities and the creation of a competitive environment.

Highlighting Governor Kihika’s development agenda to the residents, Kuria noted that the project will connect the county with investments in the Central Rift which brings together seven counties in the agriculturally rich region.

“The park is expected to nurture, transfer and commercialize various innovations and technologies for the benefit of our people that have for a long time lagged behind in technology and innovation,” he stated.

He asserted that the county would not spare any resources in ensuring the project becomes a reality adding that the industrial park was a great opportunity for young men and women to use their skills and create jobs.

Kuria said the county administration is committed to work with the National Government and other partners to accelerate delivery of such parks across the country to promote investment, create employment and they will boost exports.

“We are also looking forward to CAIPS and SEZs that will host steam-intensive industries such as pulp and paper, wood and wood products, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, and leather industries,” stated the CECM

According to Kihagi, the agro-industrial park will provide opportunities for leasing of land, and essential services such as water and electric power supply, logistics, consulting, telecommunications, necessary infrastructure and other services.

Kihagi affirmed that the county government would further prioritize the development of the multi-billion-shilling Special Economic Zone located in Naivasha where close to 100 investors have expressed interest in the 50-acre plot located near the Inland Container Depot at Mai Mahiu.

He added “We are determined to develop synergies between the Special Economic Zone and the Inland Container Depot. Among major projects expected on the land and around the 10km buffer zone include banks, hotels, housing estates, petrol stations, and hotels to be served by the Standard Gauge Railway”.

Industrial parks and Special Economic Zones support the growth of the economy by providing a platform where government and private sectors cooperate to create an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation

Kihagi stated that the Agro-industrial Park and the Special Economic Zone would also improve infrastructure adding that the County town enjoys a comparative advantage for setting up a special economic zone as it is strategic in providing access to other towns in the country, other countries in eastern Africa and easy access to raw materials.

Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives CECM Leonard Bor indicated that the County Government would also encourage CAIPs to adopt a farmer cantered and export-oriented approach to enable small scale farmers and producers to contribute to the aggregation, marketing and export of produce from across the devolved unit.

He added that it would also create jobs, reduce post-harvest loss, connect counties through Commodity Exchange (KOMEX) and Warehouse Receipting.

The establishment of industrial parks is part of Kenya’s industrial transformation programme which was launched in July 2015. The country has 15 gazetted SEZs, which form part of the ambitious plans to create thousands of jobs and boost exports to spur economic growth by 2030.

This comes at a time when Kenya has set a cheaper power tariff of Sh10 per unit at the 15 special economic zones. The zones are spread across Naivasha, Mombasa, Kisumu and Machakos. The Olkaria-Kedong SEZ in Naivasha has been enjoying a cheaper tariff of Sh5 per unit.

The tariff is the lowest rate per unit of power across all the consumption bands under the new regime, highlighting the State’s resolve to improve the investor climate in the face of increasing competition from countries that offer investors cheap electricity.

In Africa, Kenya has the largest number of SEZs with 61, ahead of Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia. However, these have not really taken off owing to the lack of a coherent policy.

As per the revised draft SEZ regulations (2019), companies operating in the zones will be exempted from VAT; reduced corporate tax from 30 percent to 10 percent for the first 10 years and 15 percent for the next 10 years; exemption from taxes and duties payable under the Customs and Excise Act (2014), the Income Tax Act (1974), the EAC Customs Management Act (2004), and stamp duty; and exemption from county-level advertisement and license fees.

By Esther Mwangi and Samwel Karanja

 

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