By: STANLEY KIMUGE
Counties in the North Rift are targeting young investors in a new strategy to boost growth in the region.
Uasin Gishu County, for instance, is planning to use a four-day North Rift Economic Bloc conference, which started in Eldoret yesterday, to attract young investors to snap up business in the region.
Governor Jackson Mandago said the forum yesterday hosted several potential investors, including a group from the Netherlands, interested in showcasing farming technology.
“This is an opportunity for youth entrepreneurs looking for start-ups and also for established business people. Young people can strike good dealerships with the investors here,” said Mr Mandago when he met the delegation from the Netherlands on the opening day of the conference being held at the Eldoret Sports Club.
Mr Johan Flikweert and Mr Remko Kruithof, entrepreneurs from the Netherlands, are showcasing new farming technologies.
“This is our first time in Africa. We will be showing farmers new technology where farmers can store their produce, such as onions and potatoes, for a whole year,” said Mr Kruithof.
The conference will be officially opened today, with the main plenary session focusing on doing business with the North Rift.
The panel will address issues of business reforms, regulatory and environment frameworks as well as regional market access.
Dr Richard Sezibera, the general-secretary of the East African Community Secretariat, will be the chief guest along with Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie and governors from the region.
Also on the programme for today’s plenary are Kenya National Chamber of Commerce chairman Kiprono Kittony, Rich Management chief executive Aly Khan Sachu, Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi and Bidco Group managing director Vimal Shah.
Media will broadcast today’s and tomorrow’s sessions live from the Eldoret Sports Club, with Wallace Kantai and Loise Wangui as the moderators.
Lifestyle show, The Trend, hosted by Larry Madowo will also be broadcast live from the conference grounds.
Mr Mandago said the four-day conference would also showcase unexploited tourism, mining and agricultural potential of the North Rift.
“We have huge potential in terms of agriculture. Nandi County produces a lot of tea and milk while Trans Nzoia County produces a lot of maize, we are seeking investors who will set up factories to process them,” he said.
Eldoret Jua Kali Association vice-chairman Walter Ayoti said the conference would be a big boost to small businesses.
“This is one of its kind for us who have come up with the innovative steamless jiko,” he said.
He went on: “We expect a lot of customers at the exhibition since people have heard about the jiko and from on Thursday we are planning to have a stand to show practically how it works to local and international investors.”
Mr Mandago, who was accompanied by his Baringo counterpart Benjamin Cheboi, deputy governors Dominic Biwott (Nandi) and Peter Lekoel (Turkana) and Uasin Gishu County Secretary Peter Lelei, inspected the conference venue and engaged organisers ahead of today’s sessions.
Among the exhibitors are Toyota Kenya, New KCC, Merica Hotel, General Motors East Africa, Kerio Valley Development Authority, Moi University, Kenya Seed Company, Kenya Power Company, Coca Cola, Pearl Hotel and Sun and Sand Beach Resort. Turkana and Baringo counties have also set up exhibition stands.
“We are attending this forum because the time has come for locals to realise that we not only attract foreign tourists, but with our friendly rates, we can also host local tourists,” Sun and Sand Beach Resort resident manager Daudi Nyambu Mtuacha.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION