Kiambu, 8 March 2017-- The County Government of Kiambu and UN-Habitat recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to collaborate in the areas of revenue enhancement and local economic development in the county.

The partnership aims to create optimal conditions for enabling private initiatives and improved county services with particular emphasis on infrastructure improvement. The focus is on identifying new and innovative ways for the county government to finance and implement development projects based on international best practice. This will include the development of precedent setting county government legal and organizational tools.

Speaking during the occasion, Kiambu Governor William Kabogo said: “We have worked very well in the past with UN-Habitat, they’ve given us tremendous support both financially and technical. You know of course we did the Kang’oki damp site with UN-Habitat and thereafter we have continued to work together, trying to help us build capacity as a government or as a county government.”

The Governor said that that the MoU would “help us develop an investment company, so to speak, that will be responsible for our infrastructural development, our housing etc and we are hoping that this MoU will lead them being able to raise USD 100 million for the purpose of this Sustainable Urban Investment Fund that UN-Habitat will help us find.”

On his part, the acting coordinator of UN-Habitat’s Urban Economy and Finance Branch Marco Kamiya said, “It is an honor to work in Kiambu because this is a learning process. We are a UN Agency, UN-Habitat with a mandate to work with and support city leaders and local governments. And this has been hard work but with tremendous experience on learning”

He added: “this has been part of several stages, on first improving and strengthening the municipal finance, and then we got very successful results and moved to local infrastructure funds. In Africa, countries are urbanizing faster than in other regions so how local governments provide services for people migrating into the city is a big challenge.”

UN-Habitat is actively working with the County Government of Kiambu to develop financial instruments to keep pace with the demands of rapid urbanization.  Although Kenya has a large population living in rural areas, urban areas are expanding fast.  At current rates of urbanization, Kenya will be urban by 2050 proving a huge challenge to the delivery of basic services, jobs and housing.

The Legal Adviser Mary Chege captured the mood when she stated: “It has been a 2 year journey that transitioned into other forms of support that included adoption of revenue enhancement measures from the Urban Economy and Finance Branch where have seen Kiambu quadruple their revenue collections.”

The MoU is an expression of UN-Habitat’s commitment to work with County Governments in Kenya to enhance their ability to provide economically sustainable services and development to their citizens.

This program for revenue enhancement is being led by a joint task force consisting of county government senior staff and a team of experts from UN-Habitat. The program has four main components: Upgrading revenue management; Simplifying the land tax valuation process; Leveraging county assets, and Infrastructure financing.