County Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua concluded the Machakos investment conference today (May 17) by reassuring manufacturers of his support. He also signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with over 20 companies on proposals to invest and work with the county on projects such as the factories to manufacture surgical gloves, waste disposal plants, paper recycling and container plants, juice factories, plants to manufacture equipment for the disabled etc. One of the companies plans to inject Sh5 billion to set up a steel manufacturing company, a construction company and a housing complex. Another company signed a deal of 10 million US dollars. Also present was a Korean company that will set up a prefabricated housing units. At the close of the day the county estimated signed Sh 56.3 billion worth of MOUs.
The second day began with a breakout session into sector roundtables. Each of the county ministers held a session on their docket and their plans for the county in their specific area. Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) members were heavily represented in the Trade sector with the County Minister for Trade, Economic planning and Industrialisation, Dr. Sunil Kumar Dhull.
In the town hall style sessions members were able to pose questions and get answers from the Ministers on the upcoming new city of Machakos, which the county intends to develop on a public private partnership (PPP) model. The proposed city is situated around Maruba Dam and sits on over 4000 acres of land. The county government has pledged free land in the county specifically for investment. Land primarily in the new city and Maruba lake will be for residential property developments while other land in places such as Matuu and other areas scattered around the county will be available to Investors for other types of development.
To get free land, companies need to present a proposal to the county government on their project. The county will organise for visits to the parcels of land around the county with investors before signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) once details are ironed out. Land will be leased out for 30 or 60 years and rates will apply. The county also showed its determination to attract investors by offering free businesses licenses during the first year of operations. Afterwards, companies will pay for the licenses.
Amongst the issues raised was energy. Solar and wind farms will be set up in the county. Manufacturers felt that solar energy cannot meet their needs. Energy projects in the county will be developed on a Build - Operate -Transfer (BOT) model. The county reassured participants that 20 acres of land have been allotted to erect a power substation while a substitute substation will be located outside the new city.Scholarships will be offered to students in the county to locals so that they can take engineering courses and work on some of the proposed energy projects once they are set up. The council intends to prospect for Coal due to its proximity with Kitui where Coal has been discovered. Mining coal would provide cheap energy and supplement hydroelectric power whose vagaries are well known to the industry due to the dependence on weather patterns.
Roads and Infrastructure was also a hotly discussed topic. The Minister for this sector outlined the county's plan to repair roads. Investors also requested for land near the Mombasa-Nairobi railway line to build godowns for goods. At the close of the afternoon sessions, participants were invited to play Golf and afterwards to a cocktail.