Kilifi County Turns to Germany for Cooperation: Governor Kingi’s Visit to Frankfurt

Governor Jeffa Kingi and Mickie Ojijo
Governor Jeffa Kingi and his host, Mickie Ojijo

Kenya’s new Constitution is gradually bringing to the fore the spectrum of social contract between government and the society that passed it in a referendum held in 2010.

The new dispensation transformed the post colonial districts Kenya increased to about 158 into 47 semi-autonomous units called County Governments, now shaping up to get their bearing, albeit hurdles associated with such experiments.
The Kilifi County Governor Mr. Amazon Jeffa Kingi in December 2013 made a foray into Germany to hold talks with non governmental financial outfits, conglomerate of development partners and manufacturers with the sole aim of putting on motion economic growth to improve the social welfare of the Kilifi people.Accompanied by his Trade and Tourism Minister Hon. Alphonce Tokali, the Speaker of the County Assembly Hon.Jimm Kahindi and other high ranking officials the 4 day visit which was sponsored by Kenya Development Associates in conjunction with the Turkish Airlines made tremendous strides on issues pertaining to medical equipment, fire fighting engines, skill training kits and modalities of project funding. Nevertheless, owing to complexity of the tourism sector, discussion on this vital sector shall continue.

Skill Training:

Education, as a catalyst of economic growth in any society is under the ambit of the national government, the Governor’s constitutional option is to focus on technical colleges. He held talks with a renowned German manufacturer of science teaching equipment whose engineering products are ubiquitous in most universities and technical institutions and for those who care to know, 80% of the German workforce are product of skill training or apprenticeship. And to prepare the youth for a competitive labour market or self reliance which is key to overall economic development the Governor is aware of this hence the determination to improve technical learning institutions.

The general notion that Coast region has been laggard in education progress is not far fetched, but it was Rabai in Kilifi county where missionaries in 1846, first established one of their mission schools in Kenya.

Economy:

The collapse of the cashewnut factory in 1998 had a negative impact on subsistence farmers forcing young people to relocate to the urban towns around beach hotels to capitalise on tourism trade. This is a clear indication that cash crop such as coconut, mango, cotton and the labour intensive sisal production cannot sustain the economy without a defined policy framework thus making bilateral cooperation indispensable.

Introduced at the coast region in the sixteen century by the Portuguese growing cashewnut plant turned out to be an important cash crop for peasant families and export foreign exchanger earner contributing 4% of the GDP, an area African Investment & Development Consulting (AIDC) is ready to source the funds for its revival, an outfit KDA is indirectly affiliated to.

Even though it would be invidious to point finger at any of the stakeholders the government gave an implausible explanation why the company collapsed.

The county that was in the recent past categorised as one of Kenya’s poorest is endowed with large and arable land for agricultural production that only requires civil education to enable subsistence farmers engage in large scale farming to produce enough food for the rapid growing population now at 1.1 million, and surplus for markets beyond its borders.

With a major water reservoir the Governor is optimistic that once irrigation programme the national Government recently is rolled out economic growth will exceed the 3.5% mark and substantially bring down poverty level experts currently peg at 68 p.c.

The discovery of iron ore and Titanium yet to explored are intrinsic segments of the anticipated growth the Governor, who is a lawyer by profession and former cabinet minister believes will generate sufficient capital the county need to implement major infrastructural projects that, in turn would attract investors in various sectors for the benefit of the county population and Kenya as a whole.

Tourism:

As a tourist hub, the Kilifi County Governor took back home experts’ opinion to bring together stakeholders in the tourism sector at the Coast to formulate a common approach on matters pertaining to branding and exclusive marketing strategy with promotion materials in the German language to win back market share lost after Kenya Tourist Board opted to shut down its Marketing office in Germany 12 years ago.

The closure had a negative effect both experts and tours operators attribute to the ongoing decline in tourist flow to Malindi, Kikambala, Watamu and Kilifi, all of which were some of Coast favourite destinations for Germans and Swiss nationals, the pioneers of charter flights to Kenya in the 60s.

The German market that was only second to that of UK plummeted all time low trailing Italy. And new comers from south of Sahara capitalised on the vacuum to overtake Kenya while while Kenya’s policy makers lament over world economic meld down as the reason of our miserable performance.

Jamhuri:

The 50 Year Jubilee celebrations the Governor was scheduled to preside over on his final leg ended in disarray after the hall was filled beyond its capacity with revellers outside in the cold surging, making the place a security risk for the Governor and his entourage who were whisked away to the safety of their hotel and missed the occasion altogether.

Ali Kiba, the bongo artiste from Tanzania has a huge fan base underestimated by the organisers. Kenyans and Tanzanians came as far as Switzerland to listen to their idol. However, pandemonium broke out after the show when fans, eager to take pictures with the singer overwhelmed the security, forcing the singer to take to his heels along the street with fans in hot pursuit, an incident the organisers believed was the best part of the show and the best way to close the year which coincided with KDA’s fifteenth anniversary.

KDA’s annual tourism promotion to be held during the Internationale Tourismus Börse in Berlin will take place in March on a date to be announced in due course. The CEO of Mombasa & Coast Tourist Association is expected to attend after holding talks with the German Tours and Travel Agencies.

By KDA secretariat

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