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Dr Mutegi Giti:Use the developed public institutions and infrastructure to improve lives and businesses

The government has been undertaking many projects, infrastructure facilities and also constructing many public institutions in the region
Tharaka Ward MCA in Kitui County Godfrey Muthengi Ndangara moves a motion of county importance on the proposed construction of High Grand Falls Dam in Tharaka and Tseikuru Wards in Kitui County by the national government on November 23, 2022/Courtesy 

Some of the key and notable institutions include the Tharaka University construction and operationalization in Gatunga, the ongoing development of Tharaka University College in Thagicu, Tseikuru Technical Training Institute, and the proposed KMTC schools in Tharaka North and Mwingi North constituencies.
Key roads include the Kitui-Kibwezi road, the Mate Road that connects Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Meru counties and other smaller projects like the lighting of urban areas. 

These projects will acquire new meaning and utilization once the proposed High Grand Water Falls dam at Kibuka in Tharaka constituency is operationalized in the next two years or so. 

The dam will lead to increased human activities and also more attention from the government in the area and hence becoming a development attraction in the region. 

The government is also in the process of establishing the Kitui-Kathwana-Meru metropolitan authority once the Metropolitan bill is revised in parliament. This means there will be a development corridor running from Kitui-Mwingi-Kathwana- Chuka-Nkubu and Meru urban areas, which will lead to massive investments in infrastructure and service delivery. 

The role of government in development process since the advent of neoliberal theories and also the Washington consensus after the 1990’s has been to play an enabling role in the process through provision of infrastructure and other critical services. 

In particular, the World Bank in 1993 advocated for complete delinking of government in provision of services and goods that the private sector or organized citizens through business could provide. The role of government has therefore been confined to provision of an enabling environment through legal, regulatory, institutional mechanisms, in addition to provision of infrastructure, monitoring and evaluation and setting of standards for provision of such infrastructure and services. 

Once these projects and infrastructure have been provided, we expect that the residents of the region will use these to improve their own lives through increased focus on businesses that can be opened in and within these institutions and along the infrastructure that has been provided. 

People are realizing the importance of investing away from Nairobi and other big urban areas because of the high costs of accessing land and also labour costs in such urban areas. 

Developers and experts agree that the region has a lot of untapped potential in business that needs to take advantage of the developed institutions to create businesses that will employ our people and also lead to faster acceleration of development. 

The combined population of the region is 3, 280,057 persons (Meru – 1,545, 714; Tharaka Nithi, 393,177; Embu 204,979; and Kitui 1,136,187) persons from the 2019 Kenya Populating Census. This in addition to the expected influx of people from other regions due to the expected projects and infrastructure from the region makes it important to engage in more business activities since there is a population to support that. 

Some of the businesses that need to be set up by the private sector include hotels and restaurants with adequate accommodation. This will support the tourism sector that has not fully been exploited in the region. As they do this, we need more investments in the tourism facilities including lodges, recreational centres and conference centres within the urban areas of the region. 

These should go hand in hand with the development of the real estate sector to ensure investments in housing units to accommodate officials coming into the region to work for various agencies. Cottage industries can also be developed in the region through the private sector, including enhanced mining of the immense minerals in the region that includes calcium carbonates for cement making in Mui basin, the iron ore mining in Mui basin, Kithiori and Mwimbi areas of the region. 

Residents should also get titles deeds for their land so that they can get better deal when leasing or releasing their land to developers or the government. They should also increase their agricultural outputs through more crop and animal rearing since the market for the same will keep expanding. 

Lastly, the county governments in the region must be able to prepare sustainable and well planned and implementable third series of County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) that will cover the period 2023 to 2027. 

The residents must fully participate in the CIDP and the fourth Medium Term Plan (MTP IV) preparation for the entire country, processes which are currently ongoing. They should give specific priorities that will enhance further the development of critical and missing infrastructure and projects like connection of Kibwezi road with Tharaka division in Thagichu and also in Tharaka constituency among other sectors. 

These should be prepared also in line with the Kenya Vision 2030 development blueprint that has been aligned to the Bottom -up economic transformation agenda of the current administration, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030; the African Union Agenda 2063 and also the East African Community agenda 2050. We should use these processes to make devolution grow and work for the region since it has an immense promise to turn our economy around. 

OPINION By Dr. Mutegi Giti, Urban Management, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and Environment specialist, Nairobi, Twitter: @DanielGiti.

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