Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi has promised Chinese investors free land as he seeks to attract investment in agribusiness and the hospitality industry.
The county government will also help the foreign investors in acquiring national government licences to fast-track establishment of processing plants in the county.
Speaking when he met a delegation from China’s Anhui Province led by deputy governor Zhou Xi’an, Mr Murungi said his administration would support investors in macadamia processing, packaging and construction of hotels in Meru National Park.
Mr Xi’an, who has been leading 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.
Mr Xi’an said the Anhui province was taking advantage of the outcomes of the Kenya-China agreements over 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 now opened its domestic market to foreign investment more than ever before. We can partner with Meru in providing high quality goods to the Chinese market. We are glad that Meru County is giving priority to local development as well as foreign investment,” Mr Xian said.
Governor Murungi said they were keen on attracting Chinese investors who will not only process agricultural produce but also have access to the China 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,” Mr Murungi said.
He noted that while Meru is a major producer of macadamia, China has a big market hence the partnership with Anhui province would see farmers reap more benefits.
“Meru National Park is a unique tourist attraction but we lack hotel space. We are looking for a Chinese investor to put up a hotel and attract Chinese tourists to Meru,” the governor said.
In August, Mr Murungi signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese municipality of Huangshan city in Anhui to boost trade relations with the Asian country.
A delegation from Huangshan also toured Meru National Park to scout for investment in the hospitality industry.
According to the Meru County Integrated Development Plan 2018-2022, the county government needs Sh300 million to construct a 300-bed star-rated hotel ecolodges in Meru National Park.
Meru county also plans to spend Sh570 million on mango, avocado, rice, macadamia and potato processing plants in partnership with investors.
Meru County’s dalliance with China started last year when former governor Peter Munya signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NHAR) to initiate sister-city partnerships.
The delegation was led by Mr Cai Guoying who is the Vice Chairman of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Ningxia committee.
Under the MoU, the two regions would cooperate in areas of agriculture, culture, trade and education.