•Ongwae was picked at the fifth conference of the Lake Region Economic Bloc held in Siaya
•Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya chairs the bloc that was mooted in 2018
Kisii governor James Ongwae has been elected the vice chairman of the Lake Region Economic bloc.
Ongwae takes over from former Bomet governor Joyce Laboso who died last July.
The Lake Basin Economic bloc constitutes Kakamega, Kisumu, Bungoma, Homa Bay, Busia, Bomet, Siaya, Nyamira, Migori, Kisii and Vihiga counties.
Governors from the 11 counties unanimously voted in the second term governor.
Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya who is the current chairman said Ongwae was chosen by his colleagues during the bloc's fifth summit held in Siaya county on Wednesday.
Ongwae thanked his colleagues for their trust in him and promised to offer his best in his new role to champion the interests of the bloc.
“I am humbled and I sincerely promise to dedicate my time to working with my able colleagues to realise the Lake Region Economic Bloc's vision,” he said.
Ongwae's election is expected to ease pressure on Oparanya who is already handling huge responsibilities at the CoG.
The bloc would tap on Ongwae's vast experience in the public service and management to jump-start its operations as it positions itself as an economic force for investments within the country.
The meeting was attended by governors Oparanya, Ongwae, John Nyagarama(Nyamira), Wycliffe Wangamati(Bungoma), Cornel Rasanga(Siaya), OKoth Obado(Migori), Wilber Otichilo(Vihiga) and Sospeter Ojaamong(Busia).
Others were Kisumu governor Anyang' Nyong'o and Bomet's Hillary Barchok.
The meeting was initially scheduled to take place on August 1 and 2 last year at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology in Siaya County.
However, the meeting was postponed due to the death of Laboso.
The establishment of LREB was mooted in 2018 to create a vehicle that would drive the development agendas of the Western Kenya counties.
With each county facing unique challenges, the concept is to find solutions through partnerships with neighbouring counties by way of inter-county trade.
Other County regional economic blocs include North Rift Economic Bloc, the proposed South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc and the Mt Kenya and Aberdares Counties Trade and Investment Bloc.