The Taita-Taveta County has been urged to fully exploit its maritime resources, including lakes and large dams to spur development and enjoy benefits of the blue economy.
The Tourism and Wildlife Principal Secretary (PS), Dr. Margaret Mwakima said the region risked missing out on the multi-billion dollar sector if the potential of the water resources in the region went unexploited.
Speaking in Mwatate on Monday during a county dissemination forum for Medium Term Planning (MTP) 2018-2022, the PS said the blue economy offered massive opportunities for job creation, community empowerment and economic growth of the county.
She cited the unexploited resources including Lake Challa and Lake Jipe which she termed as goldmines for the county.
“The blue economy does not refer to oceans and seas. It encompasses other water bodies like lakes that we have in this county. We must exploit those resources,” she said.
Dr. Mwakima added that MTP 2018-2022, which is the third five-year economic plan drawn from Vision 2030, had identified priority sectors and noted county governments will play key roles in actualising the MTP goals.
Amongst the priority sectors listed included infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, livestock, trade, mineral processing , ICT amongst others.
Taita-Taveta is home to Lake Challa, a four-kilometre square volcanic lake that straddles the boundary of Kenya and Tanzania in Taveta sub-county.
Currently, the only economic activity in the lake is small-scale fishing by local fishermen from Taveta.
However, Tanzania has invested massively in tourism activities and receives hundreds of visitors at Lake Chala Safari Camp on the edge of the lake.
Taveta sub-county is also home to Lake Jipe which attracts a small number of tourists and locals who engage in fishing.
Dr. Mwakima said proper exploitation and preservation of lakes and oceans was the key to reaping the benefits of blue economy which will aid in realisation of the Big 4 agendas.
In her speech, the Deputy Governor, Majala Mlagui said the county was keen to cooperate with national government to foster development in the region.
She also said there was need to work closely to resolve issues like perennial wildlife conflicts that worked against realisation of Big 4 Agenda.
“We need to work together to implement the goals of the MTP as we resolve the challenges facing our people for a better living standard,” she said.
The County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Finance, Dr. Masawi said the County Integrated Development Plan was aligned to the Vision 2030 and said it supplements government’s efforts to uplift people’s lives.
He cited activities like road construction, opening of a banana-processing plant and boosting of human resource as key to county growth.
“The county has identified areas that we know will bring maximum benefit to our people,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi