Why Homa Bay County is the heart of Nyanza

Friday, March 1st, 2024 10:08 | By
Governor Gladys Wanga signs one of the first waves of investment memoranda at the Homa Bay International Investment Conference. PHOTO/Print

Homa Bay has always been on the news one way or the other. The news has often bordered on the comical. Its former governor, Cyprian Awiti, was a gifted man. His dancing skills were out of this world for a man of his comportment.

Entertainment in the county is often at another level. Agricultural shows in Homa Bay are famed for attracting fan seekers from the wider Nyanza area. The Luo are known to live large, and Homa Bay often provides the space.

Not too long ago, they had an airstrip commissioned in the county for which Homa Bay residents, led by their current governor, would not tire of reminding anybody who cares to listen that they do not arrive; they land in Homa Bay.

Even a portion of the airstrip being covered in grass is spun by the faithful of Homa Bay: it is a natural green carpet. In Parliament, the presentation by the women’s rep of Homa Bay is always a show-stopper. Christened Bensouda, Joyce Atieno takes no hostages.

She is not the only one. Homa Bay is the home of George Peter Opondo Kaluma, who single-handedly has been prosecuting LGBTQ+ concerns, and the county is home to Millie Odhiambo Mabona, the indefatigable MP for Suba North.

The heart of Luo Nyanza is in Homa Bay, the region where Raila Odinga draws his most fervent following. Lest you forget, this is the home of the late Otieno Kajwang and before him, Tom Mboya.

Not too long ago in Parliament, Bensouda declared that Homa Bay would compete with Kisumu; after all, it was becoming one of the cleanest counties in the region. It thus has come as little surprise as Homa Bay has continued to trail blaze in Nyanza, putting up eye-watering shows.

The Homa Bay International Investment Conference that ended yesterday succeeded in highlighting the potential of the counties. What may be said of Homa Bay may be said of other counties in the country.
What are the potential in the counties – be they in the fields of agriculture, tourism, mining, and other endless potentials, that could become points of focus to uplift the living standards of the people and, by extension, of the country?

Thanks to the conference, Homa Bay is looking towards reviving and developing its cotton farming to lead in cotton production in the country. Focusing on the manufacturing sector and, more specifically, the textile industry in Uasin Gishu, Kisumu and other counties, such development would lead to local value addition and thus increase national productivity.

The same could be said of tourism. There is so much that Homa Bay can offer that is attractive and more so when adequately harnessed.

The beaches of Lake Victoria aside, the flamingo bird lakes of Simbi Nyaimi and the natural hot springs, among others, lie in wait for investment, which could add to both the local and national economies.

While the conference in Homa Bay has highlighted these gems in the county, the truth is that other gems are lying all over the country.

Take the untapped potential for tourism of Lake Turkana. The lake boasts one of the cleanest beaches in the country, with an amazing breeze and view.

The palm trees of Lake Turkana often dance lazily in the wind, unperturbed, waiting to be discovered. What a fantastic attraction it would be if the government would invest in infrastructure and let the private sector compete in taking advantage of the natural wonder that the lake is.

The same applies to other counties: Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Taita Taveta, Kakamega and its forest wonder. The focus that the local leadership is bringing to the counties, such as has been done by Homa Bay through the investment conference, is important, but a national blueprint would be helpful not only to exploit what the counties are highlighting and link these gems for the national good.

The country should be able to tap into the devolution dividend while the county administration can highlight its gems; at the national level, it would be helpful to link these gems for the national good.
—The writer is Dean, School of Communication, Daystar University

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