Trade Investment and Blue Economy Conference
Optimizing Shared Resources for Prosperity under the Big 4 Agenda
21st – 24th October, 2018
The Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) consists of 14 Counties (Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homabay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans-Nzoia and Vihiga), within Lake Victoria Basin. The objective of LREB is to leverage economies of scale and shared resources in order to grow the economy of the region and improve livelihoods of the people. LREB’s Vision is “promotion ofsustainable, equitable socio-economic development for a better life”. The Mission is: “To achieve sustainable development through coordination, promotion, resource mobilization, innovation and enhancement of equitable economic integration in the Lake Region.”
Article 5(3) (e) (g) of the Lake Region Economic Bloc Agreement stipulates that the LREB shall pursue joint investments with a view to enhancing the Lake Region’s economic growth and it shall strengthen and consolidate cooperation in agreed fields that will lead to equitable development within the member Counties and which in turn will raise the standard of living and improve the quality of life within the LREB.
As one of the prescribed activities, the Bloc, in collaboration with Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA), Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), and Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), the Private Sector and Development Partners is organizing to hold the “Inaugural Lake Region Trade, Investment and Blue Economy” whose theme is “Optimizing Shared Resources for Prosperity”. The 3 day conference shall be held in Bomet County as from 21rd-24th October 2018.
The conference will be a platform to showcase the region’s opportunities and bring international, regional and national investors together with the LREB’s leaders to discuss and exchange ideas that will lead to increased investments in the region.
The Region is one of the most densely populated with over 14 million people which constitute a significant part of Kenya’s population. The Conference is expected to bring together the socio-economic aspirations of the 14 counties and seeks to boldly secure and shape the region’s destiny.
Due to immense but largely untapped resources in the region, it is paramount to pull together in a concerted effort to showcase new investment opportunities, to catalyse trade and promote sustainable utilization of resources, create jobs and improve livelihoods – whereof the Conference presents such an opportunity.
The recommendations from this conference will also be presented at the upcoming Global Blue Economy Conference in the month of November 2018 in Nairobi.This will provide a strategic opportunity for LREB to showcase its trade and investment potential in Blue Economy.
LREB region is vast and endowed with diversified riches in natural resources (fertile land, rivers, Lake Victoria, minerals, forestry, wildlife), human resource as well as being contiguous to two Countries (Uganda and Tanzania) and six bordering Counties (West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Baringo and Narok) of the Lake Region, providing significant potential for development and investment, regional cooperation and economic integration. This potential remains largely underexploited due to low investments.
The Conference will provide information on flagship projects as identified in the LREB’s Blue print. Emphasis is being given to the blue economy agenda at the global arena, consequently at the regional level there is need to champion the same in inland waters including Lake Victoria. This calls for strategic programmes, projects and action plans that will drive trade and investment in the Region’s Blue economy. The resolutions, outputs and outcomes from the upcoming conference will provide the roadmap to realize the dream of enhanced sustainable socio-economic development in the region.
The promulgation of the Constitution 2010 brought previously non-existent opportunities for regional growth closer to Kenyan citizens by introducing a devolved system of government that brings decision–making structures and processes closer to the people. Within the devolved structure, Kenyans can more actively participate in the planning and implementation of development plans for their region. However, the main drawback to investment in Counties is that the units are too small to leverage economies of scale, often unable to tap into a robust pool of skilled labour or funding options required to catalyse positive change within a given jurisdiction. Presentations under this thematic area should therefore revolve around: Promotion of Free trade, establishment of a Regional Bank, Efficient and environmentally friendly ways of harnessing Water resources (multipurpose dams for hydropower, irrigation, water sports, and inland fish farming), Tourism – Lake Region tourism circuit (opportunities and challenges), Human resource and expertise, Transaction cost/investment incentives, Coordination in planning, innovative service delivery through ICT, Fisheries, Lake Transportation, Conservation and Management of natural resources. Green Energy (Wind and Solar power), and Market access.
Trade and Industrialization is considered as the flagship sector that will enable LREB to exploit the opportunities provided through deepened integration in export products and destinations diversification. The bulk of Kenya exports are raw materials and primary products, and the major export destination is EAC, which accounts for more than 20% of total exports while trade outside EAC and COMESA is about 5%. LREB is well placed to drive increases in the National Market share for manufactured exports in the EAC region. However, while the LREB should be experiencing expansion in manufacturing activities, competition from cheap imports has led to shrinking of the industries. In addition, there is need to strengthen bilateral engagements with other regional/African countries outside EAC to diversify destinations, and exploit potential value chains. Presenters should highlight the benefits of global economic integration with an industrial orientation that manufactures for export as the prime mover into the global economy. Emphasis should be laid on opportunities like Agro-processing to increase incomes for small scale farmers in LREB, fishing and aquaculture, tourism, maritime transport and untapped opportunities in Education and Health Sectors. Challenges arising from constraints on enablers such as unexploited talents in sports, art and culture; inadequate financial services; poor infrastructure; barriers to trade and industrialization, low uptake of research and innovation; and divergent policies regarding gender, DAPs, youth and the marginalised should also be considered.
The Kenyan Government is keen on delivering services to the people through four strategic sectors popularly known as the Big Four. These include, Affordable Housing, Universal Health Coverage, Manufacturing and Food Security. The Lake Region Economic Bloc, being part of Kenya, is interested in how member counties can strategically place themselves to maximize on the National Government’s plan on the Big Four. The member Counties are in the process of embedding the Blue Economy strategy in their Development Plans in order to harness opportunities in aquaculture, maritime transport, multipurpose dams (especially for the Counties that do not border the Lake), tourism and exploitation of flora and fauna. Presenters should therefore bring out vividly the relevance of the Big Four and Blue Economy to LREB’s development strategy.
The Lake Region, compared to other regions in Kenya, is well endowed with a variety of natural resources including the world’s second largest fresh water lake, permanent rivers, wetlands endowed with unique plant and animal species, great tropical rain forests, Mt. Elgon and precious stones. However, not all the foregoing natural resources are harnessed at optimal capacity. The region is also endowed with Green Energy Resources, Ports and Shipping opportunities and fertile soils. Presenters should highlight availability, viability and challenges facing collaborative approaches in utilization of these resources and mitigation strategies for the said challenges.
The Lake Region has a great potential for trade and investment given its high population (estimated at 14 million), diverse resources and abundant labour. Collaborative approaches to trade and investment among member counties have the potential of making both the Counties and investors gain from wider markets and economies of scale. Some of the hindrances to trade and investment in the Region include: Infrastructure; Legislation and regulations; policies, conventions and trans-boundary issues; Access to finance; Technical Education and training; Safety and security- enforcement, weather alerts, search and rescue; Pollution and Solid Waste Management; Socio-cultural barriers; Political environment; Land tenure and Spatial plans; Extension services; Investment Incentives; Climate change; Natural disasters and invasive weeds; Weak governance, and Research dissemination. Based on these, among others, presenters are expected to develop approaches that would enable the Bloc mitigate on hindrances to trade and investment.
In the Region, like other parts of Kenya, research has been going on both in the Universities and in specialised research institutions. The Region, however, has very low uptake of research findings and their transformation into bankable ideas for use in industry. Presenters are called upon to bring to the fore factors that have hindered research findings uptake by industry in the region by closely paying attention to: University/Industry linkage in the region; Creation of Innovation and Incubation centres; Adoption and Up-scaling innovation and technology; Knowledge management; Collaboration and partnership in applied research including establishment of research laboratories; Evidence based decision making; Education and technical training; Financial access and inclusion; Innovation and Incubation Centres; Revamping of research centres; Sheltered workshops and resource centres; Talent and creative industry development; Capacity building and Advocacy.
There are a number of cross-cutting themes aimed at integrating marginalized groups and issues in the Lake Region. These include Peace and Reconciliation, Business ethics, Gender in Agriculture, Gender in the Fishing Industry, Gender and Financial Services, Youth and Agriculture, Youth and Education, Youth and ICT, Differently Abled Persons (DAPs) and Agriculture, DAPs and Education, DAPs and Vocational Training, DAPs and ICT, HIV/Aids, Youth and Life skills management. Under this theme, presenters are expected to bring out appropriate best practices.