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Kenya to build special economic zones in 3 cities

04 July 2013, 12:33

Nairobi - Kenya will build Special Economic Zones in the cities of Kisumu, Mombasa and the historical town of Lamu in the coast region, an official said in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Director General of the Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat Mugo Kibati said the two cities and Lamu Town will entirely be converted into special manufacturing and services hubs that supply the foreign markets.

"We are going to concentrate on industries that have the potential to create most jobs," Kibati told Xinhua in an interview.

The Kenya government has already set aside 3,400 square km of land to be used for development of special economic zones.

"Progress on establishing the zones has been behind schedule but will now gain momentum in the next five years when the second phase of the Kenya Vision 2030 will be implemented," said Kibati.

Vision 2030 is a development blue print that is being implemented to make Kenya a middle income country by the end of its implementation period of year 2030.

Kenya is adopting the model used by Singapore and China in developing their special economic zones, said Kibati. The two countries used the zones to solve the twin issues of unemployment and industrialization, said the Kenya official.

The Kenya government is currently involved in developing the master plan for the zones ahead of their launch later this year.

According to the draft Medium Term Plan for the Kenya government that will guide economic growth in years 2013-2017, the coastal city of Mombasa will be the largest special economic zone with 2,000 square km of land being used for the zones while Lamu and Kisumu will have 700 square km each.

According to the Kenya Vision 2030 blueprint, the Mombasa special economic zone will facilitate importation of necessary raw materials and exporting of finished goods.

It will include an agro-industrial zone incorporating activities such as blending and packaging of fertilizers, teas and coffees, and a consolidated meat and fish processing facility to encourage growth of offshore fishing.

The Kisumu special economic zone will allow for access to regional markets and availability of limestone to support cement, chemicals and metals industries and will include agro-processing through increased horticultural production along the lakeshore, notes the document.

That in Lamu will serve the export markets of Southern Sudan and Ethiopia through the facilitation of Lamu Port-Southern Sudan- Ethiopia Transport (LAPSET).

Establishment of the special economic zones has wider infrastructure requirement aimed at benefiting local business and consists of manufacturing units, townships, roads, hospitals, schools and other services.

According to Kenya Vision 2030 blueprint, the special economic zones will include the establishment of agricultural parks, industrial parks, science and technology parks for the development and production of information technology software and hardware products.

Under the Medium Term Plan for 2013-2017, Kenya is also seeking to increase the level of national savings from the current 13 per cent of gross domestic product to 30 percent.

According to Kibati, the intention is to ensure that there are adequate local resources that the government can use to finance development without resulting to borrow from abroad.

Kenya will use the development period to build its skills base and infrastructure for oil and gas activities so as to take advantage f the discoveries that have been made in Uganda and Tanzania respectively.

According to Kibati, already Kenya and Uganda have agreed to connect the planned new oil pipeline with the Uganda oil fields, which was not the original plan under the Lapsset plan.

"We shall now have a pipeline from Uganda linking with that from South Sudan at Turkana (northern Kenya)," said Kibati. That pipeline will then be connected to the oil storage facilities in Lamu.

In the past week, the presidents of Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda agreed to build a joint crude oil refinery to be constructed in Uganda.

According to Kibati, oil revenue in the region will not start flowing until in five years time when Kenya should be ready to become the oil and gas solutions hub in the region.

Kenya like the rest of East Africa countries has had fewer investments in oil and gas skills and also infrastructure because there were no commercially viable oil and gas resources that have been discovered.

The government has now instructed universities and technical colleges to build partnerships with institutions that offer training on oil and gas industry to build local capacity.

- Xinhua

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