Entry at the Amboseli National Park from September 10th to 12th for the 2nd Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Conference will be free for all delegates and members of the public.
The Devolution Cabinet Secretary (CS), Eugene Wamalwa said preparations were at an advanced stage and encouraged delegates to attend the event where ASAL counties will discuss on minerals, irrigation for food security, meat industry, value addition, magical tourist destinations and culture.
Wamalwa noted that devolution has had a lot of positive outcomes since its inception with the majority of the ASAL counties benefiting the most from the system of governance.
“Before devolution, ASAL counties were left behind in terms of development, but now they have shed that tag and are setting the pace for all the other counties because now as a country, we have joined the oil producing countries in the world, courtesy of Turkana County which falls under the ASAL counties therefore this conference is important to all Kenyans and to investors, as we can be able to exchange ideas with one another so that we can all move forward as a country,” Wamalwa said.
The CS also emphasized that the Devolution Ministry is monitoring closely the effects of famine and hunger in the country.
“Already we have a sectoral plan that is simultaneously moving with the Presidents Big 4 Agenda where we want to make the country secure in terms of food production and alleviate hunger among Kenyans that’s why we have this conversation to look into all issues affecting ASAL counties including investments,” he added.
Wamalwa said for a long-time investors have kept off ASAL counties and urged them to attend the conference to establish first-hand, the huge potential that the counties have to offer.
“The conference brings together all the 29 ASAL counties to look at the challenges that they are all facing as well as the opportunities and the potentials that can be devolved as per our national government’s vision 2030. I want to encourage investors to invest in these counties as they have so much to offer,” said the CS.
The 29 ASAL counties are Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Laikipia, Narok, Kajiado, Nyeri, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Embu, Migori, Homa Bay, Nakuru and Kiambu.
Additionally, the Kajiado County Governor, Joseph Ole Lenku noted that the free entry at the park will boost local tourism as the public will have access the wildlife area at no cost.
“The conference will help boost tourism as members of the public will be able to see animals like elephants, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs and lions as well as enjoy early morning view of Mt. Kilimanjaro as well as the rich culture of the Maasai community,” Lenku said.
Kajiado will be the first county to hold a national event inside a National Park.
The Governor further stated that Kajiado County was honoured to host the 2nd annual event after Kilifi County as the conference seeks to explore unexploited opportunities and areas of a strategic partnership to achieve economic empowerment in the ASALS especially among pastoralist communities.
“This is an important conference to all of us because it is a conversation that we need to have as a nation with the many challenges that we are facing including drought, shortage of water among others therefore it is a timely conversation for us as we will be able to interact and find solutions to these challenges as a way of utilizing our own resources to the maximum,” Lenku said.
The two leaders were on a site visit at the park to ensure that all preparations are in place before the event kicks off.
All the ASAL counties have confirmed attendance with President Uhuru Kenyatta expected to officially open the conference.
By Rop Janet/ Albert Lemomo