Mr. Kassim Were Ali: County Minister for Trade, Industrialization and Tourism.
As the Minister in charge of tourism, I want to revitalize the industry through a set of strategies already in place. There are many attractions in the county, chief among them being Kakamega Forest, the Crying Stone of Illesi, Bullfighting (Malinya) and the Nabongo Mumia shrines.
I will embark on aggressive marketing and work in partnership with neighboring counties so that we can package the Western Tourism Circuit as one and to leverage on the unique tourist attractions that are inherent in each of the counties.
There’s need to add value to our tourist attractions to give visitors the best experience. To this end, we are exploring possibilities of introducing new animal species never seen before in these parts of the world. Gorillas will be obtained from Uganda to complement the already rich fauna in our indigenous forest. Aggressive marketing will be undertaken to inform people and have them come to view the hundreds of monkey, snakes and bird species that are found in the only tropical rain forest in Kenya.
We are currently exploring possibilities of introducing a cable car to run all the way from Shinyalu where the Kenya Forest Service is located to Kambi Mwanzo to give visitors an aerial view of Kakamega forest. It has the potential of boosting visits from both local and foreign tourists. It has worked well in other parts of the world and we are confident it can work wonders in Kakamega too.
Discussions are ongoing between the County Government of Kakamega and the Lake Basin Development Authority with a view of partnering in putting up an ecotourism center near the forest. Some 4.2 Ha of land where the facility will be located has already been identified.
Investors in the hospitality sector have also shown great interest in the county and we shall be working with them to establish hotels and other amenities across the attraction sites. To fully exploit the existing tourist attractions for the benefit of the county government and the various communities where some of the sites are found, the County Government through my Ministry has initiated talks with various stakeholders.
This brings me to the department of trade. Kakamega County has a conducive business environment that we want to bolster further. The driver for trade in the county will be the agricultural sector.
We intend to set up modern markets in every sub-county to make sure that agricultural products reach the markets and trading within the markets is not inconvenienced by natural factors such as rains and extreme sunshine. They will be replete with toilets, lighting, lockable stalls and 24 hours security. A substantial amount of money has been set aside in this year’s budget for the mentioned purpose.
In order to support the medium and small scale traders, low interest loans will be made available for business people within the county. Small-scale traders will be provided with capacity building programs to enable them utilize these funds effectively.
Our people are hard working, producing many products, both in terms of raw materials and finished items. We shall dialogue with the major business entities in the county with a view of making them give local producers preference as long as the goods meet the set standards.
Industrialization is what will drive the economy and create more jobs for our youth. Emphasis shall be put on cottage industries. This will be done through training our people and helping them access credit from lending institutions. In addition, the growth of the agricultural sector especially in the area of livestock and fish farming should be able to activate the emergence of agro-based industries for feeds supply and also value addition of the agricultural products.
Bigger plans are in the works to develop the manufacturing industry. There are plans to set up a maize milling plant through public private partnership in the high maize producing parts of the county.
Investors will benefit immensely from the incentives we have prepared for them including infrastructural and legislative mechanisms which will make doing business easy. There is plenty of both skilled and semi-skilled labor in Kakamega County as a result of the various technical colleges such as Sigalagala Technical Institute, now Sigalagala Polytechnic, Bukura Agricultural Institute and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology. The County also boosts of a number of village Polytechnics, now County Polytechnics that will continue to provide the much needed skills needed for the cottage Industries. This county government will develop the best transport and communications network, not forgetting the peace that exists in Kakamega County, the people of “Mulembe”.
The sugar industry will be supported to make sure that both millers and the farmer are well accommodated in the symbiotic relationship.