Politics aside. Lake Region Economic Bloc Governments need to collaborate more to harness the potential of their rich maritime resources as an enabler of growth, trade integration and prosperity. Joint sourcing of commodities is just one idea that would revitalize and promote trade, enabling a nascent LREB trading bloc to flourish.
By not accelerating developments around the port and finding better ways of using shared maritime resources, Lake Region Counties namely Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nyamira, Siaya and Vihiga are missing an opportunity to build their economies faster, create more jobs and innovate new industries, and nourish a growing population.
Creating an expansive road network through Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) will encourage infrastructure to connect the region to farmers and producers from the rural areas. To increase our combined impact, smallholder farmers can be able to access larger markets at good prices if they can easily transport their produce at low costs to sell in other market centers.
Policy Making within County Assemblies
This can easily facilitate their access to markets, and empower small farmers to engage in policy dialogue. MCAs should see themselves as more; with a key role to play in ensuring inclusive and sustainable rural transformation at local and county level in enabling farmers access opportunities across borders and as well spur dialogue with sectors such as hotels, travel and tourism, transport and so on.
Lake Victoria is a waterway which can transport millions in cargo oil, gas and goods across counties and East Africa at large. The port is being upgraded to handle 4,000 containers. The 180-tonne, 91-metre long mv Uhuru cargo carrier has already made 26 round trips to Uganda. One trip, which is equivalent to having 30 lorries take over a week, is completed in only 17 hours.
Kisumu handled 17,735 tonnes of cargo in 2019, a 62 per cent rise due to improved efficiency. There are still some challenges. Uganda has yet to complete its oil jetty. Among challenges identified by shippers are weak ports, railway and road infrastructure, small handling capacity, high shipping insurance, high logistical costs, theft of cargo and arbitrary fees.