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Joint projects in the offing as Narok, Kajiado economic bloc bloom

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Like its parent county governments, the new entity will be subject to the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act

A strategic plan is already in place to guide activities of the economic bloc, with a Secretariat as well

Kajiado and Narok counties are set to initiate collaborative projects for the benefit of the residents of both counties as a regional bloc that brings them together takes effect.

The Narok-Kajiado Economic Bloc (NAKAEB) is in fact the only fully legal entity of its kind in Kenya, a Bill having been passed by the County Assemblies of the sister counties in December 2021. The Narok-Kajiado Economic Bloc Act of 2021 provides for cooperation between the two counties, preparing the legal framework for the structures that will underpin collaboration between the two counties.

Like its parent county governments, the new entity will be subject to the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.

Implementation

A strategic plan is already in place to guide activities of the economic bloc, with a Secretariat as well. The Mosiro Irrigation Project is being accorded priority. For its preliminary activities, the bloc has attracted funding from donor agencies, notably the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“We started implementing that Act this year,” said Kajiado County Attorney Augustine Sekeyian. “At the top, we have the Summit, consisting of the two governors. This is the top-most organ of the bloc. They have rules of procedure under the Cooperation Agreement. They ratify any decision that comes from the Council.”

The current Chairman of the Summit is Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, deputized by his Narok counterpart Patrick ole Ntutu.

The NAKAEB Council is the policy organ of the bloc. It comprises six members — the County Attorneys from both counties, both the County Executive Committee Members in charge of Finance, and both County Secretaries.

“That is the organ that runs the economic bloc, literally,” said Sekeyian. “The CEO is the head of the Secretariat. The bloc is a corporate entity by law. There is a contribution from each county to run its affairs. Staff members came from each county.”

The NAKAEB Secretariat is based in Nairobi, with plans to create its own headquarters at a convenient spot between the two counties. It is headed by Chief Executive Officer Jackson ole Mpario.

Legislative agenda

The NAKAEB County Assemblies Forum is yet another important organ of the upcoming bloc. The Forum takes care of the legislative agenda of the bloc. It consists of both County Assembly Speakers, Majority Leaders, Minority Leaders, Whips, and the chairs of the budget and legal affairs committees. It also includes one MCA representing women from each county, and one other representing people living with disability.

At its inaugural session in Naivasha for induction on the economic bloc, the County Assemblies Forum voted Narok County Assembly Speaker Davis Dikir as its chairman, with Kajiado Majority Leader John Loisa as vice chairman.

“The main role of the Forum is to help the bloc grow through legislation,” said Loisa. “Most economic blocs die because they don’t involve MCAs. We have to pass laws that favour the bloc.”

The new economic bloc has further come up with Pillar Committees comprising corresponding CEC Members from the two counties for implementation of joint projects.

Think tank

A think tank has also been created in the form of the NAKAEB Economic Council, consisting of members from academia, CEOs from the region, and other members who can give an input regarding economic proposals that should be pursued by the two counties.

Other regional blocs that have been created bringing together several counties include the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), the North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB), the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC), and Jumuia Ya Kaunti za Pwani.

Counties in Ukambani have come together under the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB), while those in the Mt Kenya area have formed the Central Kenya Economic Bloc (CEKEB).

While some of the economic blocs are huge entities — with LREC bringing together 14 counties and CEKEB 10 counties — NAKAEB brings together only two counties, while SEKEB has the three Ukambani counties.

However, NAKAEB appears to have compensated for its smaller size by pushing ahead faster than the rest, not only by passing enabling legislation but also full operationalization of the bloc.

National laws

Economic blocs bringing counties together are anchored in Article 189 of the constitution, which enables cooperation between various counties. In particular, Article 189 (2) states: “Government at each level, and different governments at county level, shall co-operate in the performance of functions and exercise of powers and, for that purpose, may set up joint committees and joint authorities.”

This provision of the constitution is given effect through the County Governments Act, in which Section 5 (2) (e) lists among the functions of county governments, “any functions agreed upon with other county governments under Article 189 (2) of the constitution”.

Section 6 (2) of the County Governments Act further empowers county governments by allowing them to “enter into partnerships with any public or private organization in accordance with the provisions of any law relating to public or private partnerships for any work, service or function for which is responsible within its area of jurisdiction”.

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