But after the last General Election and creation of the county structures, most local governments did the predictable and determined that the best way to generate investment revenue was by imposing more taxes.
Arguably this is one of the most intellectually lazy means of generating income.
I argue here that there are numerous creative strategies; short, mid and long term, that counties can deploy to attract the right type of investment which can yield revenue.
An important action that can be taken immediately is to determine competitive advantages of a county and build on them.
The strategies should articulate a means through which the county can capitalise on economically viable activities that already exist, consult with industry experts on how they can be made more profitable and create an executable means through which the advantages can be further capitalised upon and new competitive advantages created and actualised.
Further, it is crucial that important county leaders are identified. These include both those who live in the county and those with an attachment to the entity.
These leaders should be identified from all levels and include those in the private and public sectors, NGO sector, village elders, women and youth leaders as well those from the disability community.
The county leadership should be consulted to develop an investment strategy in order to, among other things, identify county needs (health, education, infrastructure etc), viable projects related to meeting these needs, sources of funding, develop capacity required to raise funds and source skilled individuals needed to manage and implement projects.
In the mid-term counties need to strive to make the units attractive for investment to both foreign and local investors.
This includes reducing administrative and regulatory costs of doing business, creating clear implementable strategies for ensuring stability and security, developing robust education and health structures and addressing corruption by developing transparent county level public financial systems.
Define skill needs
Counties can, in the medium to long term, make efforts to define skill needs and map out career paths of employees.
They can identify people suited for key jobs as well as develop programmes — in conjunction with secondary schools, vocational schools and universities — to create a resource pool of employable individuals with skills which can be effectively employed at the county level.
Counties should, in the long term, consider setting up investment funds where excess revenue can gain interest.
This can be divided into short, medium and long term strategies which include deposits, Treasury bills, Treasury and corporate bonds as well as strategic equities with the ultimate aim of creating a county ‘‘sovereign wealth fund’’.
Finally, county governments should make efforts to learn from investment and entrepreneurial activities so as to structure future investment drives in a productive way.
Ms Were is a development economist. email@example.com; twitter: @anzetse