Road2Kilifi – the ambition of a County in Kenya

By Ato Bob*

“We brought Kilifi to Europe and now we want Europe to come to Kilifi!” –
H.E. Hon. Amason J. Kingi, Governor of Kilifi, Kenya.

Introduction

This article is based on the Road2Kilifi Investment Workshop held on 6th June 2016 at the Mainport-Intel Hotel in Rotterdam City Centre, The Netherlands.

The Workshop was held on the occasion of the visit of a high powered delegation from Kilifi County, Kenya, headed by the Governor H.E. Amason Jeffa Kingi, accompanied by the Senator for Kilifi, Hon. Justice (RTD) Stewart Madzayo. Other members of the delegation were Carol Kalume, Chief of Staff and Patience Tsimba, Chief Officer for Trade, Industrialization, Co-operative Development, and Tourism & Wildlife.

Agriken International organized this Workshop in collaboration with the Netherlands Export Combinatie (NEC) and the Kilifi County Government. Agriken International is a family company based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, which promotes agribusiness in particular between Kenya and the Netherlands.

The concept of Road2Kilifi is remarkable policy choice of an African devolved government unit, not to sit and wait for the world to come to them, but instead to undertake an assertive drive for investment and development partners in Europe.

General Information about Kilifi

Kilifi is one of the 47 Counties or administrative geographical units of Kenya, based on devolved government following the 2010 Constitutional reform. Kilifi lies at the coast of the Indian Ocean, North and North East of Kenya’s major port Mombasa. It occupies an area of 12,340.8 square kilometres, being less than a third of The Netherlands. Kenya in turn has an area of 580,367 km².

Kilifi had a projected population of 1,217,892 in 2012, following the 2009 census, which is to increase to 1,466,865 in 2017, clearly fast-growing in numbers. Kenya, like many African countries at present, has a young population age structure, with 42.1 % under age (0 – 14 years, 18.7 % between 15 to 24 years, 32.8 % between 25 to 54 years and finally just 3.7 % between 55 to 64 years and 2.8% over 65 years. This is an enormous challenge to the education and employment sectors throughout the country let alone provision of health and other public services.

Kilifi County has approximately 6,891.2 km² of arable land, with 5,407 km² non-arable. With a 56% of the land useful for agriculture, while 44% could benefit from irrigation.
The major cash crops are coconut, cashew nuts, pineapples, sisal and mangoes, while for subsistence maize, cowpeas, green grams and cassava are grown. Fishing and livestock are other important major economic activities.

Road2Kilifi Workshop

The event was opened by Dorcas Jeruto, CEO and Goodwill Ambassador of Agriken International, by welcoming all participants and highlighting the objective and programme.

The Senator Stewart Madzayo, representing Kilifi in parliament at national level, said that he expected that their visit to the Netherlands and other countries in Europe would provide Kilifi with potential contacts for investment and co-operation.

His Excellency Amason J. Kingi, Kilifi’s Governor, explained that the elected leaders and administration of Kilifi had come to the conclusion that Europe should be made aware of their almost virgin County in order to attract investment and development co-operation.

Dorcas Jeruto explained that the workshop was intended to give the Kilifi delegation a direct exposure to some of the Netherlands Government supported development and co-operation agencies and institutions. This responded well with the objectives of the Kilifi delegation.
She also mentioned the planned Trade Mission to Kilifi in October 2016 by Agriken International and NEC (Netherlands Export Combination).

The Chief Officer Patience U. Tsimba then gave an excellent informative presentation of Kilifi County. Using multi-media facilities her presentation featured several video and Power Point Presentations causing the audience to have a good overview as well as in depth information about Kilifi.

PUM Netherlands Senior Experts

Mr. Sjaak Vink, PUM Country Co-ordinator for a.o. Kenya spoke about the PUM facility. He explained that Senior Experts (all volunteers) provide business advice and technical assistance to organizations in developing countries.

PUM has a network of 265 representatives in 70 countries around the world, connecting directly with entrepreneurs, business support organizations and partners locally. PUM works with 3,000 senior experts who share their knowledge on a one-on-one basis through short-term and repetitive advisory missions at the work floor, or through online coaching activities. Entrepreneurs or those at a business support organization can vastly benefit from the advice and technical assistance of a PUM Senior Expert in the relevant field.

An advisory mission takes two weeks. During this period a senior expert works with the partner organization at the work floor and leaves practical recommendations to follow up.
As for the costs, the receiving party pays for board, lodging and local transportation costs of the expert. PUM pays for the airplane ticket of the expert, insurance, visa costs, admin and other expenses. This renders PUM as one of the most successful programs of direct co-operation

Netherlands Enterprise Agency

Mr. Frank Buizer, on behalf of his colleague Anja Roymans, outlined the assistance and advice available through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, which falls under the Netherlands Ministry of Economic affairs.

He mentioned various facilities and institutions as e.g. CBI- the Market Intelligence Platform, the Trade and Development Officers at Netherlands Embassies, the Netherlands Business Support Offices, the Aid, Trade and Development Programs available through the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, e.g. the Public Private Partnerships, the Sustainable Water Fund, the Good Growth Fund. He also pointed at the Netherlands Business Hub at Nairobi www.tradewheel.nl and last but not least the upcoming Netherlands Business Mission to Kenya in the second half of June 2016 in which more than a dozen Netherlands major companies will be represented.

Road Rapid

Bob Koopmans of OSO Enschede B.V. presented Road Rapid, a very inventive method to treat dirt roads and change them into all-weather roads. Using a mixture of local available soil, water and Road Rapid agent, will result in a permanent change of the molecular structure of the soil. Road Rapid is very cost-effective, easy to use and creates roads which are 15 times stronger than normal rural earth roads. Road rapid minimizes dust and is water repellant. The Road Rapid agent was developed through extensive several years R & D.

Kilifi County as investment and business destination

There are ample investment and business opportunities in Kilifi County, both for small and large scale. Tourism may seem to be well developed but there are plenty of niches, where one can make a difference and get a fast growing business. Larger scale ventures in agriculture or value adding production are attractive too. Business and legal advice is locally available if one doubts to join with a local partner or go solo.

A last good advice from the Governor: “Better come to Kilifi and spot your investment or business opportunity now, before it gets crowded!”

Conclusion

I was impressed by the forward looking attitude and assertive confidence of the officials from Kilifi. They are not sitting back to have investors, developers and business partners to reach Kilifi, but are actively inviting or even recruiting them. This is the way to spur development.

*Ato Bob is a former Dutch Diplomat who now consults with various NGO’s on African issues. He lives in Rotterdam and may be reached on atobobhensen@hotmail.com

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