Privatization of sugar mills in Western Kenya in top gear

Written By: KNA

Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Mwangi Kiujuri (centre) Nandi Governor Stephen Sang(on the left) and his Migori counterpart Okoth Obado

Stakeholders in the sugar industry from the Western Kenya region have resolved to hold public participation in each of the five state controlled sugar factories before they are privatized.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

At a high level stakeholder consultative meeting held at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu, the Privatization Commission was asked to conduct public participation at individual factories starting next week and ascertain the status of each factory before the exercise commences.

According to the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Mwangi Kiunjuri , this will enable sugar firms that are ready go ahead with the privatization process to proceed and those not ready given ample time to correct challenges facing them.

The National government and Privatization Commission have been at cross-roads with County governments in whose jurisdiction the enlisted five sugar mills fall, over concerns that the process was initiated way back in 2009 before counties were created.

Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153

Governors from Kisumu, Migori, Nandi and Bungoma have insisted that counties have been left out of the shareholding in the envisaged sale in which a strategic investor is to take 51%, local farmers 24% and the remaining 25% retained by the National government.

Also Read  COVID: 4% of Kenyan business professionals expect their firms to fold

During the meeting, the National Land Commission (NLC) was asked to conduct site visits and searches for each of the companies to ascertain land ownership that has also been a subject of contention with local residents.

The meeting also agreed that the sugar company’s debt currently amounting to 89 billion shillings be written off before strategic investor is invited to take over their shareholding in each of the factories.

Kiunjuri confirmed that a cabinet memo for approval of writing off the debts has been prepared and that his Ministry is set to gazette sugar regulation by 31st March this year to ensure the process privatization undertaken smoothly.

Also Read  Aston Martin: Mercedes to take 20pc stake in luxury brand

The Chair of the Agriculture committee in the Council and Migori governor Okoth Obado, his Bungoma’s Wycliffe Wangamati , Nandi’s Stephen Sang and Kisumu Governor Prof. Peter Anyang Nyong’o , who was represented by Deputy governor Dr. Mathew Owili said County government have a key role to play in the agriculture sector since it is a devolved function.

Obado said the process to identify a strategic investor must be not only be competitive but also take care of the interests of farmers.

“There is need to from previous privatization stories like Mumias Sugar Company that is not currently doing well and best practices worldwide to avoid pitfall” said Obado.

Governor Sang complained that the process must be fastracked and resolution arrived at, at previous consultative meetings concluded on time to avoid the delay witnessed in the past 10 years.

Also Read  Machakos County farmers secure Kshs 10M for seed subsidy

“We need to broaden the base product by diversifying the sector and get more by-products from sugar for farmers to get value” he added.

Present at the function was chairs of Privatization Commission Henry Obwocha and his NLC counterpart Mohammed Swazuri, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Ricahard Lesiyampe, Investment Secretary Esther Koimett, Kisumu Senator Fred Outa and Nyando MP Jared Okello among others .

Swazuri confirmed that the NLC has already has two reports regarding land ownership the five factories of Muhoroni, Chemilil, Sony, Nzoia and Miwani and that final status report would be ready in two weeks.

Koimett said National government was ready to see how county governments will be involved in the shareholding of the 25% assigned to her.


Tell Us What You Think