Coast counties get Sh2.3bn EU funding

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The Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP), an economic bloc geared towards empowering the Coast region, will receive a Sh2.3 billion grant from the European Union (EU) to harness the blue economy.

This was revealed during a two-day JKP meeting in Malindi attended by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, Dhadho Godhana (Tana River), Fahim Twaha (Lamu), Taita Taveta deputy governor Majala Mlaghui and head of EU cooperation Herbert Perr, among others.

During a briefing after a consultative meeting Friday, the county bosses, however, expressed different opinions concerning efforts to steer the economy.

Differences emerged after Mr Godhana highlighted the opportunities that can be harnessed in the blue economy sector in his county and how they can benefit from the projects.

Mr Godhana, a first-time governor, outlined his county’s strategy ranging from agriculture, fishing, aquaculture and the industrial sector.

“We have already started the journey with the EU. We got allocation to start a cold storage facility for fish and milk and the two projects are in the tendering process stage,’’ he said.

He said his county boasts a 150-kilometre stretch of River Tana, oxbow lakes and the Indian Ocean.

Mr Kingi, who is among the three JKP founders, said his vision is geared towards improving the six counties’ economies as a bloc and not as individual entities.

Mr Emanuel Nzai, the JKP chief executive officer, said they had already identified 19 flagship projects to be implemented with a view to reaping from the blue economy to create job opportunities and boost the economy.

“The region has blue economy opportunities ranging from tourism, fishing, and aquaculture, maritime,” he said.

However, it is still not clear whether the ‘individual county interests’ will undermine the JKP ideology bearing in mind that some of the governors have not been attending the sittings.

Missing from the meeting was Mombasa’s Hassan Joho and his Kwale counterpart Salim Mvurya, who are among the founders of the JKP bloc.

“I do not wish to approach it the way my friend from Tana River has just said, it is a journey and our vision should concentrate on the larger coastal region,” said Mr Kingi.

Mr Perr said the EU was working on a plan aiming at allocating more funds to the bloc but before the bureaucratic process ends, the first amount will be released to the counties.

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