The constitutional framework for governance in Kenya introduced a two-tier structure with a national government and 47 county governments. Article 6(2) provides that the two levels of government are distinct, inter-dependent and shall conduct their mutual relations on the basis of consultation and cooperation.
The emergence of the six regional economic blocs in different regions of the country, pegged on a desire to optimize the comparative advantage of counties, their economies of scale and ability to attract investments has been characterized by the adoption of different forms of institutional structures by the different blocs.
The six regional economic blocs are: the lake region economic bloc (13 members), the north rift economic bloc (7 members), the central kenya economic bloc (10 members), the jumuiyaua kaunti za Pwani (6 members), the south eastern kenya economic bloc(3 members) and the frontier counties development council (7 members)
In the absence of an over-arching policy and legislative framework for their establishment, the county governments have adopted, with variations, the EU, EAC and Lehigh Valley Economic Development Region models to guide the set up and operationalization of the regional economic blocs.
The president Uhuru Kenyatta, while addressing the participants of inaugural investment conference of the Lake Region Economic Bloc in Bomet town on October 22, 2018 assured the blocs of his administration’s commitment to assisting the blocs meet their shared goals.
The president in acknowledging the lack of a national government policy framework for the institutionalisation and management of regional economic blocs, instructed the Ministry of Devolution and ASAL Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa to fast track the development of the policy and legislative framework.
The policy and legislative framework for the regional economic blocs would in addition address the nature of instruments of cooperation, the powers of the regional economic blocs, the financing of the economic blocs, the ownership of regional blocs’ projects and the dispute resolution mechanisms to be applied in resolving disputes
The Kenya Law Reform Commission is a member of the technical working group on the establishment of a national policy framework for the regional economic blocs.
KLRC, is the agency mandated with advising both the national and county governments on matters relating to law reform, keen to ensure that the adopted policy and legislative framework is both progressive and responsive to the development needs of the country and the counties.
The writer is a legal expert in the Commission