Attendees at the conference
  • Representatives of the National Government present here today;
  • Representatives of County Governments;
  • Friends from Embassies, High Commissions and Development Agencies;
  • Colleagues from Non-Governmental Organizations;
  • Members of staff of the County Government of Kisumu;

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to Kisumu County, for this very important event.
This symposium is a precursor to the regional conference on investment in water resources in the Great Lakes Region, that we plan to host in Kisumu in the first quarter of 2018. The goal of the regional conference will be to showcase investment opportunities and attract sustainable project initiatives in the water sector to improve the wellbeing of the people in the region.

In a sense, we are here for early reflections, towards a bigger agenda, placing our own interests as a County, in the broad context of regional development. However, we do not come here only to talk. We come to seek ideas for action. One may pose the question: What is the basis of our interest in water resources at this point in time? Our answer will be simple and in two parts: First, the practice of development has renewed interest in water resources, drifting from pre-occupation with land as a primary factor of production. Secondly, opportunities for investment in the water industry remain largely untapped, especially in our part of the world.

In the lake region, the main water body in the region is Lake Victoria. In addition, there are large rivers and streams within and across countries. A broad conception of the water industry entails water for household use and irrigation as well as other natural resources within water bodies. Some of these natural resources could be raw materials in industrial production of various substances. I have heard of many possibilities in this regard, including a claim that hippo grass may be used to produce very good wine. There are also immense possibilities in maritime transportation and hydropower generation. It will take scientific and commercial analysis as well as information sharing to convert such possibilities into investment projects. This is why this meeting of minds between scientists, business persons, government agencies and national and international non-state actors is instrumental in unlocking the potential in water investments in the Lake region in general and Kisumu County in particular. We have only one day to put heads together. However, I am hopeful that we will accomplish at least two objectives by end of the day.

First, to make an assessment of the investment opportunities in the water industry within Kisumu County, addressing the questions –

  • Where are the investment opportunities?
  • What are the estimates of economic potential and worth of investments?
  • Who are the current players and what limitations do they have?
  • What are the new frontiers of investments in this industry?
  • Who are the potential investors?
  • What are the financing modalities available to such investors?
  • How will the County and National governments collaborate to facilitate investments in this industry?

Secondly, to share knowledge and data on investment opportunities in the water sector between national and county governments, non-governmental actors as well as perspectives from outside Kenya. Our key questions here are:

  • How have other counties, regions or countries tapped investments opportunities in the water industry?
  • What technologies can we borrow and what lessons can we learn from elsewhere?
  • What innovations will be necessary to exploit the full potential of the industry?

The organizers of this symposium have done very well to break down these key questions in five thematic areas, covering:

  • Water for Agriculture and domestic use;
  • Water for marine transport, energy and industry;
  • Finance, investment and institutional development;
  • New technologies and innovation;
  • Waste water, sanitation and resource recovery.

This is certainly a heavy agenda for a single day, but no doubt a very good place to begin our work to tap the full potential of this industry. All the talk we will have today should point us to clear action plans to take this agenda forward. Let us leave this venue with ‘things to do’, even as we prepare to engage at the regional level next year. The County Government of Kisumu is open to continuing discussions with various industry players represented here, in bilateral and multi-lateral arrangements after this initial engagement. Let us solve the problems of current generation while building for the future. Thank you for listening to me and I wish you a successful day of deliberations towards concrete action.