Balala on the spot over Africities 2021 money after secret letter to CS Wamalwa

Kisumu residents are now catechizing Tourism Cabinet Najib Balala’s interests by trying to move the Africities Conference from Kisumu to Nairobi. The conference brings together Heads of States, Mayors, and Ministers of Trade across Africa. In October, the Council of Governors passed a resolution to have the event held in the lakeside city of Kisumu, instead of the capital, Nairobi.

Despite six ministries as well as the CoG agreeing to hold the conference in Kisumu and setting aside resources for the same, Tourism Najib Balala has secretly written a letter to Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, asking for the 2021 conference to be moved to Nairobi. The Cabinet Secretary has also refused to set aside resources from his ministry which was to be channeled towards the same conference.

In his letter, dated December 10th, the Tourism CS acknowledges the Africities will make Kisumu host to over 5,000 guests across Africa. However, despite over six ministries, as well as the Council of Governors setting aside resources to prepare for the event, Balala says there have been challenges on the government’s side, regarding the same.

On the 25th of September, a multi-agency committee involving state and county officials was inaugurated to prepare for the Africicties Summit 2021. The ministries which have been involved in the preparations are officials from the ministries of Devolution, Interior, Treasury, Foreign Affairs, Transport, ICT, Housing, and Urban Planning. It was only the Ministry of Tourism that was not involved in planning the event.

“The hosting of the Summit in Kisumu provides Kenya with an opportunity to share our experiences in implementing the devolved system of government. The adoption of devolution by Kenya through the 2010 Constitution presented a unique opportunity to empower our sub national governments, including cities and municipalities, to improve on service delivery and respond to the aspirations of their citizens”, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa told the Council of Governors in September.

However, in his reasoning, Tourism CS Najib Balala wrongfully claims there are no ready venues in Kisumu, to host the conference. Balala says, with eleven months remaining, there needs to have a ready venue and accommodation that is commensurate with the conference and the delegations expected.

Kisumu County Government in October this year embarked on a rigorous exercise to make Kisumu ready for the signature event, which was last time held in Makkarech, Morocco in 2018.

The preparations in Kisumu have been in top gear, and sometimes residents of the city have had take losses over the same. More than 50 roadside kiosks pinpricking the city have been demolished in the ongoing second phase embellishment program in the city for 2021 Africities meeting.

To imply Kisumu is not adequately prepared to play host to Africities 2021 is not only heartbreaking but also to insult the intelligence of Kenyans.

Kisumu is part of the republic, and to host this continental event in that part of the country would be a major boost to Tourism. The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism should tell Kenyans on whose interest is he moving the Africities 2021 from Kisumu to Nairobi. Would CS Balala request the summit be moved to Nairobi if it was to be hosted at the Coast?

If his decision is informed by a personal vendetta against ODM leader Raila Odinga whom he parted ways with in 2011, then this explains why he has refused to commit resources for marketing Tourism in the Western circuit of the country.

The people of Kisumu and the entire Western circuit are asking CS Najib Balala to let the Africities 2021 Conference be held in Kisumu like it had been earlier planned. The CS Nairobi and Mombasa have been hosting international events since 1963, it is time we showed the world how beautiful Western Kenya is.

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    Written by Albert

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