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Ukambani Counties adopt regional economic development (SEKEB) act

Three governors from Southern Eastern Economic Block (SEKEB) have jointly adopted the joint development Act that was recently passed by county assemblies of the three countries.

The regional economic bloc policy paper was endorsed by the counties to consolidate resources   towards development of the whole Ukambani region.

The three governors, Dr Julius Malombe of Kitui County, Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos) Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni), said the SEKEB Act will help the region to jointly plan, implement development projects and as well jointly share achievements and regional available resources.

The three governors while speaking after a second SEKEB meeting held at Kitui County governor’s offices in Kitui County headquarters in Kitui Town, said that they will deploy experts in developments sectors to provide technical advice and guidance needed to ensure right development projects are implemented and resources used wisely.

The governor’s resolved to jointly source for regional development funding from national government and even development partners and donors.

“Our three county assemblies have done us proud for passing the SEKEB development Act, therefore we have kicked off joint planning and implementation of regional development agendas ” said Makueni governor Mutula Kilonzo while addressing media.

The second SEKEB meeting will deliberate on several regional development priorities including health, water, road infrastructures, agriculture and tourism, among others.

“On Water Infrastructure, The SEKEB will continue to engage with the National Government to initiate and complete Mega dams Projects that provide water for domestic use, irrigation to enhance sustainable food security and generation of hydro-power. Said the Makueni governor.

Governor Mutula singled out Thwake Dam, noting that it is a multipurpose mega project within the Bloc.

“The first phase is 80 per cent complete. The dam will spur economic growth and enhance food security within the Bloc while addressing perennial water shortages across the three counties.” added the Makueni governor.

Other areas of on water development deliberated included reviving of stalled Umaa Dam (in Kitui) which stalled at the initial stages, has been taken up by the National Government for completion.

On water for irrigation, the three governors said the Sh.8.5 billion Yatta dam had been identified by the National Government among the dams to be constructed.

“The investment will spur agricultural activities along the 58-kilometre Yatta Canal and substantially increase the acreage under irrigation. Its completion will transform the region’s food security,” the governors said.

On Roads infrastructure development for the economic bloc, the governors were impressed by the impact of the Kibwezi-Kitui Road, saying that the road had opened the region economically.

They noted that SEKEB will continue to lobby for more inter-county major roads that will enhance connectivity within and beyond the Bloc.

“This will be actualized through strategically reaching out to Kenya National Highways (KERRA), Kenya Urban Road Authority (KURA) Kenya Rural Road Authority (KERRA). This is expected to spur economic growth.” the meeting observed.

The meeting underscored the need for the three counties to collectively address common challenges by embarking on developing a Strategic Plan that will focus on the thematic areas to realize their shared dream and desires.

The thematic areas included Infrastructure and Industrialization, Food Security, especially by moving from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture, Climate Smart agriculture as well organizing Agricultural shows in the Region.

The governors observed need to identify their economic bloc Trade partnerships, also recommended development for Human Resource through Youth, women and PWDS empowerment. In ICT and Innovation, the governors called on Completion of Konza Techno City, identification of Talents as well its development, training, and skills development.

On Natural resources, the SEKEB should give guidance on sand harvesting and management, exploitation of minerals and location of related industries within SEKEB, ballast crushers and Mining.

“On Healthcare, the meeting resolved the Establishment of specialized units in each county, “we propose that Kitui County to have a fully equipped Renal unit, Machakos to have a fully-fledged Cancer Centre and Makueni to have a Trauma Centre, the three units will be shared by needy patients in the bloc,” the governors said during a media briefing after the meeting.

The meeting noted that SEKEB hosts one the largest national wildlife Parks of Tsavo to the South, South Kitui Game Reserve to the South, Mwingi South Game Reserve to the East and the bordering Meru National Park.

The region is endowed with natural features and phenomena which include one of the wonders of the inverted gravity a portion of the Machakos-Mitaboni Road, Fourteen Falls, Yatta Plateau, Ikoo Valley and the larger valley that extends from Miambani to Zombe.

“These form a tourist circuit which, if well exploited, will attract investments and create job opportunities through promotion of both local and international tourism,” The governors resolved to improve the tourism industry in the region.

According to the governor’s meeting, SEKEB Secretariat, a fully operational Secretariat is being constituted and The Secretariat will be based at Machakos Town as is provided for in the SEKEB Act 2022.

The meeting further resolved that Secretariat will support and oversee full operationalization of the SEKEB structures.

“In addition the Secretariat will coordinate and actualize implementation of projects and programmes within the elaborated Development Strategic Plan for the Bloc,” the meeting recommended.

The governors disclosed that the SEKEB is planning to hold a Stakeholders Forum in September 2023 at Thwake Dam site. “The choice of the venue is informed by the need to demonstrate our shared resources, values, challenges and unity of purpose.” the three governors of South Eastern Kenya Economic bloc said.

The forum is expected to bring together 3,000 people drawn from the three County Governments within the Bloc, including our strategic partners, investors and international communities who share our vision and desire to engage and walk with us in exploiting our great potential.

“In addition, the Forum will offer a great opportunity to call upon the national government to fast-track the completion of all major incomplete multipurpose dams within the region” Makueni governor said, while supporting their dedication and commitment towards the realization of the common focus of the Bloc.

By Denson Mututo


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