Excitement in Kisumu as traders prepare to cash in on Africities forum

Kisumu City.

Kisumu City.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

It is a season of boom for Kisumu businesses as they welcome up to 10,000 delegates who have started streaming in to attend Africities postponed last November because of Covid-19.

The event is projected to yield a revenue of at least Sh2 billion in delegates’ fees alone, and Kisumu is expected to retain 100 per cent of the amount. Every delegate pays Sh42,000 participation fee, which excludes accommodation and other levies. All the collections will be handed over to the county administration.

The conference has also encompassed exhibitors who will showcase their wares virtually as many other delegates will be following proceedings online. The exhibitors are expected to pay for physical space and put their wares on a virtual pavilion.

Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o has expressed confidence that the conference will thrust Kisumu into the international limelight with regard to business.

“The summit presents a golden opportunity to showcase what devolution has achieved for Kenya. Kisumu is privileged to be a case study for participants to study the impact of devolution on our socioeconomic and political development.”

In anticipation of the imminent boom, players from various sectors are already posturing to get a piece of the pie.

Notably, various airlines have increased their frequencies to Kisumu International Airport as most of the carriers have reported full booking ahead of the event.

To cater for guests who will want to commute from Nairobi to Kisumu, Fly Renegade Air last week announced the introduction of return tickets starting from Sh17,400. The Africities shuttle flight package will operate between Kisumu International Airport and Wilson Airport.

Ethiopian Airlines has, on the other hand, offered a 20 per cent discount for travellers from Africa and 15 per cent discount for those from the rest of the world who will be travelling to Kisumu for the summit. The influx of visitors has also strained accommodation facilities, a move that has forced the Africities secretariat to extend accreditation of hotels to the neighbouring counties of Kakamega, Vihiga and Siaya.

Tourism executive Achie Alai said they have identified and vetted individuals operating Airbnbs, homestays and serviced apartments in Kisumu. “We are running out of space and are now forced to look for hotels outside Kisumu,” she said during the inaugural briefing to the media at Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium.

Owners of private vehicles and taxi operators are being licensed to help ferry guests to during the event. Besides the stadium, the summit will utilise the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Ground and Mama Grace Hall for different programmes.

The conference, organised by United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), picked Kisumu as the first intermediary city to host the ninth summit. The conference is held every three years in one of the five regions of Africa.

This is the second time Kenya will host the Africities after the fourth edition in Nairobi in 2006. The event—to take place from Tuesday to Saturday next week—will, among other things, discuss the role of intermediary African cities in implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the African Union Agenda 2063.

In the long term, Aloice Ager, a member of Africities Secretariat, said the summit will include pitching to various investors what Kisumu can offer to the world. This will include showcasing the lakefront, the special economic zone and the blue economy on possible collaborations, he said.

The national government is however expected to play a critical role in providing necessary infrastructure such as electricity, water and road networks necessary to enable the private sector to put up profitable businesses.

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