Professional from Wajir County yesterday converged at a city hotel yesterday to discuss how best to tap into the potential of the county and give back to their home area.
Despite the fact that the county is one of the most underdeveloped and marginalized in Kenya, its sons and daughters who were in attendance did not show any evidence of such background.
Among the bagful of elites who attended the meeting organized by the County Government of Wajir were wealthy businessmen, senior government officials, academicians and the county’s members of parliament.
Wajir Governor Hon. Ahmed Abdullahi summarized the county’s potential and pointed out the thriving livestock trade, possible oil and gas deposits, solar and wind power energy among others.
“We have called together professionals from Wajir to discuss ways of tapping the county’s potential as a prelude to a major investors’ conference in June,” he said. The conference will be held in Wajir.
On security, the Governor took issue with the current operation in parts of the country saying that the government should first work on the long unmanned border the country has with Somalia.
“Deporting illegal immigrants is of no use when they can easily sneak back into the country because of the unmanned border and corruption” he said.
Equity Bank Chief Operating Officer Dr. Julius Kipng’etich urged the county’s professionals to start a patriotism fund that supports basics services as a way to give back to the community.
He also proposed the formation of a debt instrument, or bonds,that could be given as gifts so that the elites could contribute to the local economy by acquiring stakes in sectors such as livestock and water, among others specific to the dry region.
Turbaj MP Mohammed Elmi called for the formation of an investment body that would bypass clan and political interests that now hinders development of the county.
“Without an investment body free from clan interests and local politics all our investment plans will come to naught,” he warned.
Some local investors pointed out that it was next to impossible to invest in areas inhabited by clans other than theirs because they will not be given conducive environment.
It will be an uphill task to attract foreign investors for now due to the fact that the county has poor road infrastructure.
All the main roads leading to and from the County are non-existent and are cut – off during rainy seasons isolating the County as a result. However, the County has an International airport and that comes in handy at such times although majority of the residents cannot afford air travel.
Poor school enrollment, with entry in primary school at a paltry 34 percent against a 100 percent national average, 13 percent secondary school enrollment against a 51 per cent average for the rest of the country is also an issue to grapple with. School dropout rates for girls are alarming; with half of them leaving by the time they reach Standard 5.
The meeting was also attended by M.Ps Abass Sheikh -Wajir East, Adan Keynan – Eldas, Abdikadir Ore – Wajir west and women representative Fatuma Ibrahim.