What you need to know:
- Kisumu requires major infrastructural development to ensure economic growth and urbanisation of the Lake Basin region.
- With its strategic location as a port city, it has key access to transport routes through Lake Victoria as it is a gateway to the Comesa and SADC regions.
Kisumu is Kenya’s third biggest city and, just like Nairobi and Mombasa before it, is meant to untap the economic fortunes of the Lake Basin and larger western region. A 2011 UNHabitat report lists among the advantages of a city its role in economic development – providing economies of scale, agglomeration and localisation.
They are centres for efficient infrastructure and services through the element of concentration in the transport system, communications, power, human interactions, water and sanitation services.
For their numerous opportunities, cities also attract influx of rural-to-urban migration, bringing together skilled, semi-skilled and casual labour. This qualifies Kisumu as a city that requires major infrastructural development to ensure economic growth and urbanisation of the Lake Basin region.
With its strategic location as a port city, it has key access to transport routes through Lake Victoria as it is a gateway to the Comesa and SADC regions, thus able to create export and import opportunities. And there are shared natural resources in the region right from Lake Victoria and tourism destination sites.
Bolster blue economy
Fish farming being a major economic activity here, the recent launch of the Sh3 billion refurbished Kisumu Port will bolster the local blue economy and make it a transportation hub for East Africa. besides this was the refurbishment of wagon ferry MV Uhuru and launch of Kisumu Kenya Ship Yard Limited to offer repairs, refurbishment and rehabilitation of ships. This is also likely to enhance security as the agency will be run by Kenya Defence Forces.
Seen as a boost for cargo uptake, Kisumu Inland Depot, which will be well served by the Nakuru-Kisumu metre gauge railway and Kisumu-Butere rail line, both rehabilitated, was launched in Kibos. Efficient and timely transportation of cargo will create more employment opportunities.
A greater illustration of the economies of scale that the port city provides for the western region is the centrality of other key infrastructure projects.
The Sh3 billion Isebania-Ikerege-Kehancha-Ntimani-Gwitembe-Ang’ata Lolgorian Road, which was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta, traverses Migori and Narok counties. Apart from improved transportation, and community development, the road has opened up rural centres for trade and reduced the cost of transportation to Nairobi in areas such as Migori.
For Narok, it is a boost to trade and tourism as it serves as a transit route to Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Serengeti game park. The revamped Nakuru-Kisumu Metre Gauge Railway Line also links to the port.
What the few critics to the elevation of Kisumu fail to see is its strategic role as a city in the western region as well as nationally as it is, indeed, meant to bolster the country’s economy through trade with other regions. Kisumu commands an economic and social influence as it serves to build a prosperous nation. The city is well in order to receive key projects.
Ms Chiteri is a communications consultant and graduate student in corporate communication. email@example.com