In Summary
  • There are six economic blocs formed by counties brought together by common interests such as marketing agricultural produce and tourism sites,

  • While the partnerships will help drive growth plans and speed up economic development, the premise on which these regional economic blocs are founded has been questioned.

  • It is for this reason that the Devolution ministry and Council of Governors are jointly developing a common policy to provide for the establishment of such blocs.

A majority of county assemblies are yet to ratify legal instruments to anchor the regional economic blocs in law, threatening to derail the partnerships intended to help drive growth.

This means the more than 40 out of the 47 counties involved in such groupings cannot implement ideas contained in policy documents formulated by members of the regional blocs outside legal and institutional frameworks.

A reading of the Constitution and relevant statutes such as the County Governments Act, the Inter-Governmental Relations Act and the Public Finance Management Act indicate that there is no legislation, or policy framework, to guide and regulate these kinds of relationships.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

It is for this reason that the Devolution ministry and Council of Governors (CoG) are jointly developing a common policy to provide for the establishment, composition, management, operations and governance of such blocs.

“Both levels of government will, through a technical committee, develop a policy and legal framework to provide the composition and governance of Regional Economic Blocks (REBs),” said CoG’s Legal and Human Rights committee chairman Kivutha Kibwana.

Additionally, challenges such as financial contributions to bloc activities and projects, conflict resolution and administrative structures will be best served by a policy framework that provides guidelines in the engagement of counties.

PERTINENT QUESTIONS

According to CoG, there are six economic blocs formed by counties brought together by common interests such as marketing agricultural produce and tourism sites, as well as enacting trade and investment laws that cut across their regions.

They are the North Rift Economic Bloc, Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC), Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), Jumuia ya kaunti za Pwani, Central Economic Bloc and the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc.

But the delay by assemblies to enact legal provisions to operationalise such trade blocs has brought about pertinent questions on their success, with devolution experts warning that counties should tread carefully.

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