Workers mount tents at KWS training institute in Naivasha ahead of the devolution conference.
The fourth devolution conference kicks off this morning at the Kenya Wildlife Training Institute in Naivasha.
The conference brings together over 6,000 people, including governors, senators and members of the county assemblies.
Host governor Kinuthia Mbugua of Nakuru said President Uhuru Kenyatta was expected to officially open the conference that comes a few months to the August 8 General Election.
Mr Mbugua said also expected at the conference were international guests and investors from Nigeria and China.
“The conference is all about people and I must say as the hosts, we are ready to ensure that the guests feel at home,” he said.
The first devolution conference was held in Kwale in 2014. The second was held in Kisumu the following year and Meru County hosted the third last year.
Yesterday, Mr Mbugua said his office had sensitised the public about attending the conference.
“I call on Kenyans to come out in large numbers and join President Uhuru Kenyatta, who will open the conference on Wednesday, in celebrating devolution,” he said, adding that the conference had good tidings for area residents.
This year’s conference is themed ‘Devolution – Transforming Lives: Tell Your Story.’
Questions had earlier been raised about why the conference was being held in Naivasha as opposed to Nakuru town, the county headquarters. The governor defended the decision, saying it was aimed at bringing life to the sub-counties rather than centralise everything in the main town.
He said the traders complaining of loss of business opportunities were not being honest because some of them had been awarded contracts to prepare meals and offer accommodation for guests attending the event.
“Naivasha is part of Nakuru County. The decision to hold the conference there was taken after intense consultations,” said the governor, adding that most of the hotels in Elementaita, Gilgil and Nakuru towns would benefit.
Naivasha traders have welcomed the decision to host the event, saying the area is a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists.
Lake Naivasha Hoteliers Association chairman Peter Mehta said the town had all the necessary facilities to host the conference.
According to the governors’ communication team, the conference will allow ordinary Kenyan citizens to share their experiences and insights on the impact devolution has had on their daily lives.
It is also a score card for all the actors of devolution – national and county governments, Senate, independent commissions, media, development partners and other stakeholders – to see how their contribution has enshrined devolution over the last four years.
In a statement, the governors said the conference aimed at safeguarding the gains, enhancing the understanding and appreciation of devolution as a system of governance that focuses on public accountability, and discussing new ways of socio-economic development and service delivery.