Press statement on our meeting with leaders, professionals and stakeholders of the six Nyanza Counties in Gilgil, Nakuru County.
THE NEW POLITICAL DISPENSATION
We have had a productive consultative meeting with elected leaders, professionals, civil society and other stakeholders from the Nyanza region. This is part of the ongoing Hustler Nation discourse that puts issues of ordinary people; mama mboga, bodaboda operators, farmers, traders, pastoralists and fishermen at the centre of our political conversation.
This is a new paradigm premised on freeing our country from ethnic politics and conversations that is only centred on leaders.
We have a new engagement of people centred issues with tangible live changing results.
At the core of the Hustler Nation conversation is the Bottom-Up Economic Model that focuses on enterprises at the bottom of our social and economic pyramid.
This is a departure from the trickle down model that has for years excluded millions of citizens from the economic mainstream denying them the opportunity to realize their full potential. This model has failed to create enough jobs, expand opportunities and bring prosperity. Instead, it has fostered a hostile environment, benefitted a few, bred corruption, patronage and created cartels.
Over the past two days, we have held a brainstorming session with Leaders, professionals and representatives of integral stakeholder segments drawn from the Nyanza region. We have had a robust, extensive, frank and candid engagement on the single most important destiny-changing discussion in our country’s economic history.
The deliberations have led to the following economic development priorities of the Nyanza region:
1. Revival of the Sugar Industry:
This country continues to be a net importer of sugar. Yet, there exists a huge opportunity in Nyanza Region being the backbone of sugar industry in the country. Knowing that cost of production per metric ton is prohibitive, a concern was raised whether we need to start a conversation on the competitiveness of the sector.
2. Optimal Exploitation Blue Economy.
The fish potential in Nyanza Region is about 300,000 metric tonnes. However, this has declined to less than 120,000 metric tonnes. As a result, Kenya is witnessing increased importation of fish mainly from China. We need to change this trend by meeting the local demand through local production and bettering the lives of the fishing community. There exists opportunities of investment around the fish value chain starting from organising fish management units to cooperatives, establishing of cold storage facilities, expansion of cage culture fishing, access to fishing gear equipment through affordable financing and countrywide promotion of fish consumption.
3. Rejuvenation of the Cotton sector together with corresponding revival of Kicomi:
In relation to the cotton value chain, the revival of KICOMI and Mountex remains a priority in providing sustainable market for farmers. We need to organize the farmers into co-operatives that can then access locally established ginneries and to maximize their output they need to access high quality seed including consideration of BT cotton.
The region recognised the need for adoption of tissue culture bananas to enhance productivity, modern collection systems, storage facilities and local value addition to maximise earnings for farmers.
5. Livestock and Dairy Production
Participants appreciated the need to enhance milk production to make the region self-sufficient. This calls for investments around breeding, collection and cooling and enhanced extension services. The regional also has a sizeable population of livestock that could easily be harnessed for beef and leather production. There is, therefore, a need for investment around the beef and leather value chains
The forum acknowledged the potential for coffee to be a key source of income to most farmers in the region. The country presently produces around 36,000MT and there exists huge potential to even double it and Nyanza region provides a huge opportunity. It was therefore agreed that there is a need for investment in accessibility of high-quality seed varieties, mini-processing and milling in the region.
7. Small and Micro-enterprises
It was agreed that there will be modalities to support farmers and small and micro-enterprises (MSMEs) to access credit to boost productivity. Predatory lending has stifled growth and innovation among SMEs which constitute 80% of the employment in the country. The meeting therefore suggested the need for an all-inclusive and friendly credit model that prioritizes the needs of mama mbogas, boda bodas, fisherfolks and other sectors.
There needs to be a keener focus on the exploitation of rice farming in the region, particularly expansion and operationalization of irrigations schemes that includes Ahero, Oluch-Kimira and Lower Kuja schemes among others.
9. Infrastructure (Roads, Water & Sanitation, Electricity, Air Strips etc) of priority in this area is the Lake Region Ring Road and upgrading of the Kisumu international airport cargo division.
10. Mining – The need to fully exploit the existing natural resources in the region that includes Gold in Migori, Soap stone in Kisii, Oil in Kano/Nyakach and Iron Ore in Homabay.
11. High Value Crops – Enhancement of Agricultural Production in general entailing underexploited potentials like Tobacco, Avocado, Mango, Sorghum, Sweet potato, Banana, Maize, Soya and Sunflower.
12. Tourism-focusing on relevant aspects of the Western Tourism Circuit, cultural heritages, creative industry, and sports as a business.
13. The caucus also discussed other sectors including Energy, Health, Education and Training, Sports & Talent development and ICT to prepare the region for the fourth industrial revolution.
This engagement will progressively cover all counties, regions and all sectors of our economy. We have already held similar consultations with the Mount Kenya region. We have also planned similar engagements and consultations with Western, Northern, the Coast, Nairobi, Eastern and Rift Valley regions.
Today, we have structured the framework for these consultations and agreed as follows:
1) The most important conversation is on the empowerment of small businesses, increasing farmers’ earnings and creating an enabling environment that rewards hard work, nurtures creativity and promotes initiative for all to flourish.
2) To ensure that an all-inclusive conversation takes root, we have agreed on a framework of engagement beginning at the grassroots with farmers, entrepreneurs, traders, cooperatives and other producer and business associations encompassing all the key agricultural value chains in particular tea, coffee, dairy, fresh produce, rice and miraa.
3) Patriotic Kenyans of all shades – scholars, professionals, subject matter experts, business and community leaders – will be brought on board to facilitate this comprehensive, all-encompassing national engagement.
This conversation will culminate in a national economic charter that embodies aspirations of, and our commitments to Kenyans at the grassroots and especially the hustlers at the fringes of our economic life.
This is the new conversation. This is the new politics.