Trade

  Ministry of Trade and Culture

 

Introduction

Lamu County’s Department of Trade, Investment, Local and International Funds/Resource Mobilisation, Culture and Tourism consist of three sectors: Trade and Investment, Tourism, and Culture and Arts. In order to have a delicate balance of the three, the vision of is to make Lamu a globally competitive and sustainable economy, renowned for heritage and cultural preservation. This concept note serves to highlight the priority projects that are included in Lamu County’s Integrated Development plan but that also fit it line with Safaricoms’ corporate social development objectives.

Mission and Objectives

The mission of the department is to create a conducive environment for trade, promote tourism and investment opportunities, and preserve local arts and cultures through the following objectives:

  1. Promoting Trade and Investment
  • Developing local industries and promotion of international and intra-county export
  • Collection and management of business information
  • Market Development
  • Promote fair trade practices
  • Investment promotion
  • Resource mobilization
  • Enterprise development
  • Tourism Development
  • Become a source of information dissemination for and about tourists in Lamu
  • Coordination of tourism activities
  • Rebranding and marketing of Lamu County
  • Maintaining facility standards and quality management
  1. Preserving and Promoting Arts and Culture
  • Promotion of cultural activities
  • Preservation of heritage and culture
  1. TRADE AND INVESTMENT

The county is endowed with substantial natural resources for economic development. These include over 5500 km2 of arable land, large tracks of natural forest, rich diversity of fauna and flora, marine resources and minerals such as Titanium, salt, limestone, coral stones, cement rocks, sand, oil and natural gas. The main opportunities for Investment include:

  • Fisheries

Fishing contributes up to75% of the local economy in Lamu County, amounting to an estimate of over 250 million Kshs. Deep sea and inland fishing however remain highly untapped and therefore revenue estimates are predicted to grow much higher upon the increase of investors. The warm waters of the Indian ocean fosters both a large quantity and variety of saline fish, crab, lobsters, and shrimp. Sport fishing is also highly popular with tourists including Marlin. Sailfish, Tuna, and many more. Lamu welcomes investors in fish processing plants among others. Pictured: A local proudly showing lobster catch (Picture Courtesy of World Wildlife Fund)

  • Agriculture

Farming is a growing economy in the region, including fruits, vegetables, grain, and other cash crops such as coconut and cashew. While the cash crop industry is blooming, opportunities for manufacturing herbal teas and essential oils remain to be exploited and cross-regional trade is expected to develop further with the improvement of the Lamu-Malindi Road. Pictured: H.E. Issa Timamy with fresh produce traders at Mpeketoni

  • Livestock

Largely unknown by many investors is that Lamu is home to a large number of pastoralists. Fresh whole milk, beef, hide, and other animal by-products are widely available in the region. Unfortunately the market is highly untapped by investors and most trading occurs in local markets on a small-scale. The County is therefore open to the creation of livestock trading markets, slaughterhouses and processing plants for milk and other related by-products. Pictured: Herders with their cattle in Lamu

  • Tourism

Lamu County is undeniably Kenya’s top destination as it prides itself with some of the richest marine ecology, terrestrial wildlife, pristine beaches, and one of the oldest cultural heritage in Kenya, dating back to the 14th century. Tourists are accommodated over 200 hotels with a bed capacity of almost 2,000. This is however inadequate and is too restricted to holiday resorts with very few lodges, and conference facilities. Investment opportunities in the tourism sector are vast as the local tourism, business tourism, and wildlife safari markets are yet to be fully exploited.

Other opportunities that are available are tour operations, eco-tourism, establishment of cruise ships destinations and much more. With its 130 km of sandy beach coastline and diverse tourist attractions, this sector has huge potential for growth, if effective marketing is done. Pictured: Hotel in the Lamu Archipelago (Picture Courtesy of National Museums of Kenya) Unfortunately, the county’s poor economic infrastructure has inhibited industrial development. This includes poor roads, communication network, and poor access to electricity and water. The county therefore has potential of expanding international, intra- and inter-county trading activities if appropriate mechanisms and infrastructure are put in place. This includes through the implementation of the Lamu Port, South-Sudan, Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor. Investment opportunities to help provide an enabling business environment include:

  • Transport and Infrastructure

Physical infrastructure is a fundamental prerequisite for job creation, and providing an enabling business environment. With the anticipated development of transport infrastructure from the Lamu Port, South-Sudan, Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor, the opportunities in Lamu are expected to grow. The project will comprise a new road network, a railway line, an oil refinery, an oil pipeline, an international airport, a resort city and a free port. In addition, opportunities exist in the development of other road networks. Pictured: Proposed Lamu Port first three berths birds eye view (Sourced from Vision 2030)

  • Banking and Finance

Lamu has had an exponential growth in the opening of new banking institutions in the County, with three new banks opening up in Lamu Island within one year alone. Financing is expected to play a major role in Lamu as the demand for microfinance and loan packages increase in the region. Local and international companies, individuals, and organisations continually seek for competitive financing rates as the County opens up for international and regional trade through the northern transport corridor.

  • Housing and Accommodation

One of the key priorities in Lamu is providing affordable housing, With the identification of new County headquarters in Mokowe, an underdeveloped town, and coming of the Lamu port, there is an expected increase in population, and thereby increasing demand for real estate and rental property. There is also a high need of accommodation and conference facilities for increasing business travellers into Lamu. Pictured: Conceptual Design of Convention Centre in Lamu (Sourced from Vision 2030)

  • Water and Electricity

Being a largely underdeveloped region but with a rapidly increasing population, this leaves a highly open space for investors interested in provision of water, electricity and other utilities. Since Lamu has largely been dependant on generator-powered electricity, investors are invited to provide green and sustainable energy solutions for the County. Furthermore, oil and gas explorations in the region provide a great potential for investors in the energy sector. Pictured: Lamu Power Station at proposed Lamu Port site (Sourced from Skyscraper city)

  • Social Services

According to H.E. Issa Timamy’s manifesto, education and health are of the highest priority. Having a largely underutilized youth work-force, the prioritization of education will allow for a growth in man-power, thereby increasing productivity and efficiency in the region. There is a rapidly increasing population requiring essential social services yet the region lacks adequate health and education institutions. Numerous opportunities therefore exist for investors in Lamu to provide the services. Pictured: Community web-learning centre in Lamu (Picture courtesy of Camara)

  1. TOURISM

Lamu County is one of Kenya’s top destination as it prides itself with some of the richest marine ecology, terrestrial wildlife, pristine beaches, and one of the oldest cultural heritage in Kenya, dating back to the 14th century. Lamu Island is renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, while the County has two National Reserves: Kiunga Marine National Reserve, and Dodori National Reserve. With its 130 km of sandy beach coastline and diverse tourist attractions, the county is a must-see for Kenyans and foreign tourists alike. The County’s attractions include:

  • Coastal and Marine Life

In addition to pristine beaches, Lamu has one of the most well preserved coral along the East African coast and a large number of endangered marine species including the sea turtle and the dugong, pictured above in Kiunga Marine National Reserve. This makes most snorkelling and deep-sea diving a widely popular tourism activity in Lamu. Being an archipelago, the Lamu Islands are not only endowed with magnificent scenery, but also fresh seafood and the most remote beaches in Kenya. Pictured: Endangered dugong within the Lamu deep sea (Picture courtesy of World Wildlife Fund)

  • Historic Monuments and Sites

Lamu has numerous historic monuments and sites dating as far back as the 14th Century. This includes Siyu fort on Pate Island, Takwa Ruins and the most popular, the renowned Lamu Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, among many others. Pictured: Siyu Fort on Pate Island (Picture courtesy of Bajun Majnoon Media)

  • Wildlife

Unknown to many, Lamu has a large number of terrestrial wildlife, especially in the Dodori National Reserve. Wildlife include, but are not limited to: lion, lesser Kudu, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, dik dik, and topi in the Dodori National Reserve. Pictured: Topi in Dodori National Reserve

  • Culture and Diversity

Lamu prides itself with having a diverse social fabric consisting of numerous ethnic and indigenous groups. To celebrate this, the annual Lamu Cultural Festival is held once a year and is thronged by thousands of local and international tourists who come to Lamu to see cultural activities including traditional dances and display, observe dhow, swimming and canoe races, and sample foods that highlight the intangible heritage of the County. Pictured: Aweer, hunter-gather community performing cultural dance during the 2011 Lamu Cultural festival.

  • Wildlife

Unknown to many, Lamu has a large number of terrestrial wildlife, especially in the Dodori National Reserve. Wildlife include, but are not limited to: lion, lesser Kudu, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, dik dik, and topi in the Dodori National Reserve. Pictured: Topi in Dodori National Reserve

  • Culture and Diversity

Lamu prides itself with having a diverse social fabric consisting of numerous ethnic and indigenous groups. To celebrate this, the annual Lamu Cultural Festival is held once a year and is thronged by thousands of local and international tourists who come to Lamu to see cultural activities including traditional dances and display, observe dhow, swimming and canoe races, and sample foods that highlight the intangible heritage of the County. Pictured: Aweer, hunter-gather community performing cultural dance during the 2011 Lamu Cultural festival.

  • Festivals and Events

Festivals in Lamu are a very popular attraction, making Lamu, “the Island of festivals”. The festivals are celebrated with dhow and donkey races, poetry and calligraphy competitions and music and dance from different communities on the islands. This includes:

  1. Lamu Cultural Festival (Every November – Next Nov 27-30, 2014)
  2. Maulidi Celebrations (Prophet Muhammad’s birthday according to Lunar calendar)
  3. Eid Celebrations (End of Ramadhan according to lunar calendar)
  4. Lamu Painter’s Festival (every second year in February – next Feb 2015)
  5. The Shela Hat Contest (every other year in February – next Feb 2016)
  6. The Lamu Yoga Festival— (Every March – next March 2015)
  1. TOURISM

Lamu has a long history, including traders and explorers from Portugal, India, China, Turkey and much of the Middle East whose marks could still be felt in the area. Lamu, a town that dates to probably the 10th century from archaeological records flourished in the early 13th century as one of the important independent city states on the stretch of the East African coast. It was once the most important trade centre in East Africa before its decline when other towns such as Zanzibar took over. Beyond Lamu Island, the County has a diverse demography including marginalized hunter-gather Aweer and Sanye communities as well as pastoralists communities. The market potential for local crafts made from natural products has however not adequately been tapped into. Lamu is the oldest and the best-preserved living settlement among the Swahili towns on the East African Coast dating back to the 14th Century. The Lamu old town on Lamu Island is a unique living heritage with over 700 years of continuous settlement. This saw UNESCO declare the town a world heritage site in 2001 with the aim of enhancing its preservation. The UNESCO World Heritage site has become recognized worldwide for its:

  • Culture

Much of Lamu’s culture is still conserved and is based on Islamic heritage despite the county’s demographic change, which is marked with the internationally popular annual Maulid Festival held in Lamu which is flocked by 1,000s of visitors every year. The rich cultural heritage has made the annual Lamu Cultural Festival a must-see for national and international tourists alike where guest are entertained with sights, and sounds of emanating across the Island. Pictured: Traditional Stick dance during the Lamu Cultural Festival (Picture by the Lamu Cultural Promotion Group)

  • Arts and Crafts

The arts play a crucial role in preserving the rich cultural fabric of Lamu society, from woodcarving and furniture making, to boat building and jewellery and from calligraphy to poetry. The tangible arts renowned in Lamu include craftsmanship such as the famous “Lamu doors”, traditional dhows, wooden carvings, woven works, and much more art and craft that is unmatched in most of Kenya resulting from the centuries of trade. In addition, body painting, using henna, are a female art form that is practiced during celebrations like weddings and religious holidays. Pictured: Local carpenter, Nassir Bwanaali, carving traditional Lamu floral designs.

  • Architecture

Lamu is renowned for it’s picturesque architecture that rivals Zanzibar, which has inspired many construction works across the globe. Today the town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its coral-stone architecture, massive carved wooden doors and the intricate geometric and floral patterns of limestone adorn inner rooms of Lamu’s stately homes. It also pervades in the woodworking traditions exhibited in the massive carved doors embellished with brass studs and antique locks. Pictured: Popular “vidaka” wall designs made from limestone.

  • Cuisine

The most popular cuisine in Lamu is the Swahili cuisine, which is influenced by Asian and Arab spices and ingredients. Local cuisine use fresh foods from the island including coconut and tamarind steeped in aromatic spices. Coconut is a common staple ingredient in the popular Swahili cuisine that Lamu has become known for. Since fresh seafood is in plenty, coconut grilled fish is a popular dish on the dinner tables of many locals. During the month of Ramadhan, the streets are filled with food vendors that sell popular sweet and savory snacks.