Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi has promised Chinese investors free land, as part of efforts to attract investment in agribusiness and the hospitality industry.
The county will also help the foreign investors acquire national government licences to fast-track the establishment of processing plants.
Mr Murungi said his administration will support investors in macadamia processing and packaging as well as the construction of hotels in Meru National Park.
He spoke during a meeting with a delegation from China’s Anhui Province, led by Deputy Governor Zhou Xi’an.
Governor Murungi said they were keen on attracting Chinese investors, who will not only process agricultural produce but also help with access to the Chinese market.
“Our company will support the Chinese investors in acquiring licences which slow down foreign investment. We will also provide free land and an educated labour force to support the investments,” he said.
He noted that while Meru is a major producer of Macadamia, China has a big market hence the partnership with Anhui will see farmers reap more benefits.
“Meru National Park is a unique tourist attraction but we lack hotel space. We are looking for a Chinese investors to put up a hotel and attract Chinese tourists to Meru.”
Mr Xi’an, who led investment delegations in South Africa before coming to Kenya, said his government was keen on partnering with Meru in manufacturing, to create jobs and supply the Chinese market with high quality goods.
He said the province was taking advantage of the outcomes of Kenya-China agreements on the China International Imports Exhibition.
The two countries recently signed a memorandum of understanding on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), giving Kenya’s fresh produce access to the Chinese market.
“China has opened its domestic market to foreign investments, now more than ever before. We can partner with Meru in providing high quality goods to the Chinese market. We are glad that Meru is giving priority to local development as well as foreign investment,” Mr Xian said.
In August, governor Murungi signed an MoU with Huangshan Municipality in Anhui to boost trade relations. The delegation from Huangshan also toured the park to scout for investment opportunities in the hospitality industry.
According to the Meru County Integrated Development Plan for 2018-2022, the county needs Sh300 million to construct a 300-bed star-rated hotel – Eco Lodge – in the park.
Meru is also planning to spend about Sh570 million on mango, avocado, rice, macadamia and potato processing plants in partnership with investors.
The county’s dalliance with China began last year when former Governor Peter Munya signed a memorandum with the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NHAR) to initiate sister-city partnerships.
The delegation was led by Mr Cai Guoying, the vice-chairman of the Ningxia committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The agreement was for cooperation in agriculture, culture, trade and education.