SPEECH BY GOVERNOR KEN LUSAKA DURING THE BUNGOMA INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT CONFERENCE ON OCTOBER 26, 2016
It is a great honour to welcome you to the inaugural Bungoma International Investment Conference. This conference accords our county a unique opportunity to showcase our development programmes, present investment proposals and cement working partnerships with the private sector to bring about desired levels of development in the County.
Exhibitors and delegates, both local and international present, equally have a chance to showcase business wares, network and benefit from strategic partnerships, exchange and transfer of knowledge and financing.
The shift in political tectonic plates that followed the establishment of devolved units has been accompanied by boisterous changes in the socio-economic sphere.
As a nation, Kenya is witnessing the development of mini economies within devolved units as demonstrated in our County of Bungoma. Our mandate as County governments in self-governance entails the promotion of socio-economic development, an obligation my administration assumed after taking office.
Real and meaningful development can only be realised with better standards of living of our people, job creation and poverty eradication.
Our development strategy is underpinned in our County Integrated Development Plan, and we have made tremendous gains; but much more ought to and needs to be done. The world transformation agenda now defines the ‘Future we Want’ through Sustainable development goals. Today, our County’s development plans reflect the 17 SDG goals building up on the Post 2015- development agenda.
The CIDP alongside Sector Plans, Vision 2030 and the Second Medium Term Plan of Vision 2030 outline our strategic development scope. We are effectively implementing national policies in the trade and industrialisation sector while formulating strategies and legislation that are pro-business.
My government structure includes a County Ministry of Trade mandated with trade development.
I wish to acknowledge the national government for setting the stage in instituting reforms in key sectors to encourage and boost investments in the ease of doing business – with Kenya being ranked third globally by the World Bank. Moreover, the National government has automated business registration, land registry, tax administration and import process (Single Window). Legal reforms include the Company’s Act and Insolvency Act.
I am cognisant of the fact that infrastructure is a key enabler to development, and that shaky infrastructure has both social and economic costs, considerably slugging economic growth. It is worth noting that my administration has to date developed a road network of more 137 kilometres, an integrated solid waste management plan and currently has 60% access of water in the county.
The national government on its part has reduced the cost of power installation and overall cost of power, consequently reducing the cost of production through the Last Mile Connection programme. By the year 2017, over 80% of the county will be connected to the national grid through this master programme.
Our economic outlook is favourable for business as a nation and has been for the past three years. With a GDP of 6.1%, Consumer Price Index 170.6, inflation rate of 5.7% and improved projections, we can authoritatively state that Kenya is on track to becoming a middle-income economy.
Bungoma County is ready for business. We seek to further wipe out boundaries and barriers in a global economy through enhanced ingratiation, partnerships, building relations that will spur industrialisation, create jobs, alleviate poverty, ultimately realising that shared obligation of improved living standards for all people.
Indeed, I urge us all to leverage on the strategic location of Bungoma- the frontier to East African Community with an estimated population of over 135 million people. The county is endowed with a pleasant climate, natural resources and arable lands with agriculture being the region’s mainstay.
To any business person, the natural resources, the industrious and hospitable people of Bungoma, economies of scale and presenting proximity are factors worth exploiting.
Significantly, there exists a funding gap creating an even bigger need for public-private partnerships in financing development. Of great benefit is the efficiency, timeliness, innovation that comes with PPPs- injected by the private sector. The funding gap in government is compounded by constrained resources and competing interests against the desired need to develop. It is with this in mind that we invite you both as the private sector and as partners to the transformation of our world through this sustainable development agenda.
As an emerging economy, the required investment is enormous. But so are the returns on investment. We invite technological advancements in value addition, and new technology that promotes sustainability.
Let us together build our road network, air transport, hospitals and research institutions, recycle waste, generate green energy, and mechanise agriculture to improve production, add value to local products, manufacture, modernise settlements, grow and build sports facilities, develop the tourism industry, automate operational systems and promote a level playing field in the global market.
Through investments, let’s enrich cultures, production, ideas, and exchange of knowledge. The Ministry of Finance and Planning has formulated a Public Private Investment strategy to initiate a formal way of mobilising resources to bridge the noted investment funding gaps and attract private players in our development process.
We commit to efficient contractual agreements through this crucial journey, within a stable legal and regulatory framework that guarantees returns and shared risks – to fiduciary oversight. This we offer as our principal incentive as we open up for business, taking note that investors follow growth, performance and commitment.
To our local investors, the challenge is on us to produce products of high quality that can compete favourably with other products in the market. The cost of production has reduced with the reduced cost of energy; and with ongoing reforms including the Manufacturing Priority Agenda 2016, we project improved and increased production, market infrastructure and continued support to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Finally, financing for development has the critical component of domestic resource mobilisation. Progressively, revenue collection in Bungoma County has improved by more than 57% over the past one year with automation of revenue collection. We expect this to rise by more than 200% by 2018.
The automation is a clear testimony that this County Government is seeking to make the process efficient as opposed to raising taxes. With an efficient system, we cut down on illegal tax practices, tax leaks, eliminate double taxation and reduce the cost of tax administration.
It is therefore my hope that this conference will not turn out to be a mere talkshow, but that at the end of the day, there will be real deals signed out of this event and financing procured. Let’s do business.