Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has rallied professionals in the western region to
unite with the regional political leadership in unlocking the economic
potential of the region.
Speaking to Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) officials from Western Region, Mudavadi emphasised the need to empower people economically.
“The habit of idlily talking endlessly by our intellectuals must give way to focussed deliberations on how to help unlock the economic potential so that our people can have dignified livelihoods and not live in perpetual poverty”, he said.
“We keep seeing our people on relief food queues. Have we ever asked ourselves whether it is the generosity of those who give, or is it because we have not empowered our people economically for them to be self-reliant?” paused Mudavadi during the meeting.
“What we need to see is everyone having the ability to take care of their family. The queues should be shortened by all of us working towards empowering our people to be able to meet the daily obligations for individual families,” added Mudavadi.
Mudavadi, who was set to leave the country to represent Kenya at the inauguration of Brazil’s new president, also assured the business community that the government is committed to creating a conducive business environment to enable a stable, vibrant and secure economy.
Mudavadi who spoke in Vihiga County when he met a delegation of KNCCI officials from the Western Kenya Region said the region will thrive immensely if the potential that lies untapped in the region is properly harnessed for economic growth.
“We need to look at new approaches that will create opportunities for us to grow businesses as a region. We have to work towards action-oriented approaches that will help in solving the challenges facing our business environment here in Western Kenya,” said Mudavadi.
The Western Region KNCCI comprises of Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga and Busia counties.
The Prime Cabinet Secretary noted that there is need to have a regional vision that will shape and drive the future of Western Kenya’s economic well-being.
He asked the region’s residents to re-think about worshiping and glorifying politicians who lie.
“What makes politicians be glorified for lying? Some don’t have etiquette. Like our people say, they lie from the teeth. We need to start serious thinking about the type of politician or leader we want. Someone able and willing to help improve the lives of our people,” said Mudavadi.
He called on the business community, intellectuals, professionals and political leadership of the region to start thinking strategically and broadly on a road-map to grow the regions’ economy.
“When we talk about empowering our people, we need to look at what are the challenges facing our people and seek solutions not mere talk. We can achieve a lot through Public Private Partnership (PPP), if we are all on the same page in unlocking the economic potential of this region. Unity of purpose is the direction we should all move towards,” Mudavadi said while urging professionals and political leaders to be part of the economic solutions to the perennial economic challenges facing the Western Kenya communities.
He said a change in business culture approach and emphasis on apprenticeship will go a long way in nurturing business in the region.
“I challenge the KNCCI, Western Region Chapter to be aggressive and be at the fore-front in working towards realizing action-oriented approaches that will help in solving the challenges facing our business environment in Western Kenya,” said Mudavadi.
During the meeting, it was established that a number of assets like public land in the region continue to lie idle. It was revealed that an 860-acre piece of land at Nasewa in Matayos Constituency, Busia County reserved for creation of a Special Economic Zone remains an untapped.
“This land is public land. But the people of Busia don’t know that they have an asset that could be a gamechanger to their livelihoods. A commitment to fund the establishment of the economic zone on the land by a donor country was not tapped. The leadership couldn’t unlock at least 500 acres for that investment,” said Busia County KNCCI Chapter Chairman, Sylvanus Mbogo Abungu.
The meeting regretted the missed opportunity for an airport in Busia County by now on that land, that could also serve Eastern Uganda for those who currently must travel all the way to Entebbe to catch flights.
“We have met purposely to deliberate on unlocking the potential and viability of positioning the Western Kenya region to tap into the PPP. Western Region KNCCI Chapter will lead the mobilization of investors and County Governments to mop-up the region’s untapped economic potential,” echoed Abunga.
Urging the KNCCI Western region Chapter to lead by example, Mudavadi had asked them to assist in developing a comprehensive and elaborate strategic economic plan that fits the current dynamic business environment in the country and which can be adopted by government as a policy guide in rejigging the trade and industry sector in the region.
On its part, KNCCI Western region Chapter promised to work with the Kenya Kwanza government on the economic front. They committed to developing a strategic plan in consultation with other stakeholders.
“We have agreed to hold a round table investment dialogue come early next year. This will bring on board all counties of Western Kenya to a negotiation table with donors, investors, business partners, professionals and the government. We are looking at identifying existing flagship projects from the Western Kenya region that have stalled. We need support to unlock them,” Abunga told reporters at the end of the meeting at Mudavadi’s Mululu home on Tuesday.
On his part, Mudavadi emphasised that it is time Kenya shifted from the traditional modules of doing business by embracing technology in the digital era to enhance competitiveness in the global market and be attractive to investors.
“The question should be how can we partner with institutions of higher learning to draw the benefits that will anchor progressive government policies. Pro-Business questions on how we intend to get investors on board are key for us to have a facilitative government and a work-oriented citizenry,” said Mudavadi.
He said having recently represented President William Ruto at the Commonwealth Trade and Investment Summit in London, United Kingdom; and being part of the Kenyan delegation at the Africa-US Leaders’ Summit in the USA, he realised much has to be done through a structured approach for Kenya to uplift itself to the standards of the global market players.
“We have to learn from other countries how to advance and anchor our business plans for us to have strategic advantage that will lead to empowering our business people meet their obligations. We should divorce ourselves from focusing too much on politics and shift the conversation to investment,” said Mudavadi.