LAKE REGION ECONOMIC BLOC

Formation of regional bank at advanced stage - Oparanya

In Summary

• Busia became the sixth member county to ratify the LREB Bill, propelling the economic agenda of the 14-member counties.

• LREB seeks to have each of the 14 members making up the bloc contribute Sh800 million for the establishment of a Sh1.9 billion joint bank.

LREB chair Wycliffe Oparanya addresses the Busia County Assembly on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
LREB chair Wycliffe Oparanya addresses the Busia County Assembly on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
Image: JANE CHEROTICH

The formation of the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) bank is at an advanced stage.

In his speech on the status of the bloc at the County Assembly of Busia on Wednesday, LREB chairperson Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said that it was a historical event and a show of strong cooperation.

“Our mission was specifically to talk to MCAS about LREB an institution. We are at an advanced stage of formation of the Regional bank, we are already negotiating with other banks and in the near future we will be making a big announcement on which bank will have agreed as the summit to join as LREB.,” Oparanya said.

He further noted that the implementation of the Lake Region Special Economic Zone (LRSEC) will spur trade in the Region.

Busia became the sixth member county to ratify the LREB Bill, propelling the economic agenda of the 14-member counties.

LREB, which is now a legal entity, seeks to have each of the 14 members making up the bloc contribute Sh800 million for the establishment of a Sh1.9 billion joint bank.

 “We called upon the County Assemblies to fast track the passage of the LREB Finance Bill to ensure that the intended targets are achieved, we have reached the minimum requirement of six counties and we have already seen commitment in the remaining counties,” the C.O.G chair noted.

LRSEC will set aside land for the development of an Industrial city.

Lake Region Special Economic Zone will entail modernising of the region’s ports and landing bays, development of an inter-county road circuit to link with the Lake Victoria ring road and general infrastructure development.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong on Wednesday signed the LREB partnership agreement.

The Governors have further identified 10 pillars to drive the bloc’s development agenda, which are; agriculture, tourism, education, health, financial services, ICT, Water, Environment, Climate Change and Infrastructure to be implemented by respective member counties.

Oparanya said that they have engaged the National government in the revival of the sugar sector where the president has supported the region to make sure that the sugar sector becomes vibrant.

“Sh.1.9 billion has already been released to pay farmers as one of the initial stages to revive the sugar industry, at the moment we are looking for strategic partners to invest in the various sugar companies that have collapsed,” he said.

He added, “LREB has already set the pace, it is one of the best which is vibrant and has progressed well.”

Governor Oparanya was joined by his counterparts Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia) Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) and James Ongwae (Kisii) along with County Assembly of Busia Speaker Bernard Wamalwa. He extended his sincere appreciation to Busia County Assembly to be among the six County Assemblies to adopt and ratify this historic Agreement for the Economic Region.

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong and Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o inspect a parade mounted by Busia County Enforcement officers on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong and Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o inspect a parade mounted by Busia County Enforcement officers on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
Image: JANE CHEROTICH

The LREB chair said he has also sent out an advisory to the Controller of Budget on their legal mandate to engage and participate in these projects as prescribed in their  “Ratified Agreement”.

Nyong'o said the LREB Governors are in support of three-tier system of devolution including counties, national and regional governments.

Ojaamong said Busia opted to join the LREB to leverage on the economies of scale and to join forces in pushing for the national government to include border counties on East African treaties, some of which impact negatively on border counties.

Ongwae urged speakers from the member counties to ensure future budgets include county's allocation towards the establishment of the regional bank