• May 25, 2024
  • Last Update May 25, 2024 8:14 PM
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Multi-billion Vihiga Granite Processing Plant to boost BETA’s Affordable Housing Program

Multi-billion Vihiga Granite Processing Plant to boost BETA’s Affordable Housing Program

Vihiga,

Friday, May 3, 2024

KNA by Wagema Mwangi

The construction sector in Kenya is poised for a major take-off as the government inches closer to signing a Sh2.5 billion mining investment deal with a private investor that will see the establishment of a granite processing plant at Emwatsi village in Vihiga County.

Construction of the state-of-the-art granite processing facility is part of the government’s policy that focuses on establishment of Kenya-based value addition and mineral-processing centers.

A five-acre land parcel where the plant will be built has already been acquired and land ownership documents processed.

With negotiations complete, the State and the investor, Equip Agencies Limited, are only awaiting to sign this historic contract to allow the project to kick off.

This is the first granite plant in Kenya where the government will have a minimum of 10 percent stake according to the Mining Act 2016.

State Department for Mining Principal Secretary Elijah Mwangi says the granite plant is expected to contribute significantly to the growth of the processing of construction minerals in in Kenya.

He adds that the aggressive push and relentless hunt by the mining department for strategic investors is informed by the urgent need to have a robust collaborative framework to help exploit the massive latent potential in the sector.

He notes that the government, keen on promoting local mineral processing, was giving priority to investors who had demonstrated interest and capacity to establish mineral processing facilities in the country.

Such a move would boost the creation of employment opportunities for hundreds of local residents, increase the prices and value of locally-sourced minerals and provide a ready-market for granite excavated by local artisanal miners.

“The construction of this plant speaks to our singular vision as a department to support the value addition for minerals as we actively create jobs and employment opportunities by putting up mineral processing centers across Kenya,” explained Mr. Mwangi.

Preliminary data in the study of geological report indicates that Vihiga County has significant deposits that cover an extensive area of over 250 square kilometers on the southern part.

This translates to a granite resource occupying a land size of slightly over 60,000 acres.

The report further shows viable mineral occurrences are located in Hamisi, Emuhaya, Luanda, Sabatia and Vihiga sub-counties.

Additional deposits are found in the neighboring counties of Kakamega, Bungoma, Siaya, Nandi, Kisumu and Busia.

Granite is one of the dominant minerals that is heavily utilized in the building and construction sector.

Due to its rigidity, stability and exceptional vibration traits, it is extensively used in engineering. Other common uses of granite include making of kitchen and bathroom countertops, tiles, terrazzo and staircases.

The mineral has been gaining popularity in architectural aesthetics where it is utilized in the making of artistic mantelpieces, statues and monuments.

It is also used in designing elaborate pavements, walkways, pedestrian walks and cemetery monuments.

One main sector poised to benefit immensely from the establishment of the granite plant is the housing sector under the government’s Affordable Housing Program.

Being one of the main pillars for Kenya-Kwanza’s Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), the Affordable Housing Program has set a target of constructing 200,000 housing units annually.

To optimize on the potential of construction material value-chain, the plant is anticipated to support the housing project by supplying processed building materials like rocks, ballast, crusher dust, tiles and related products.

The shift towards locally-processed and manufactured materials for use in government programs is a strategic approach to not only create jobs and market for local products but also support and enhance sustainability of mineral processing through the Buy Kenya-Build Kenya initiative.

Artisanal miners in quarrying and rock-crushing view the plant as a panacea to their perennial challenges of lack of market, unemployment and struggling livelihoods.

Mr. Jotham Makokha, the chair of Emwatsi village community, says the impending opening of the granite factory has rekindled optimism amongst the local residents who expect to reap benefits from a resource that is oft looked at as a nuisance.

He adds that most farms are characterized by granite rocky outcrops and massive boulders that hamper effective farming.

He points out that local farmers will sell their granite resource to the factory for processing which will clear their land and offer them additional space for agriculture.

“We are excited because this is a win-win situation for us. They will take the rocks to process and we get extra space for crops.

We are also expecting our youths who have been migrating to find jobs in other towns to come home and work here,” he said.

For the Vihiga County government, the granite plant, once dogged by curse of delays, is now a reality.

Governor Dr. Wilber Ottichilo says the county is not only committed to creating a favorable investment atmosphere for investors but also ready to partner with the national government and partners to promote development in the region.

Stating that the plant was a symbol of the mineral processing capacity in the region, the governor urged investors to exploit other opportunities available in the county for investment.

“This project will be life-changing for the people of Vihiga and beyond. We are calling for more investors to come and set up shop in this region,” he said.

Courtesy; KNA

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