A Ksh 7.9 Billion plan to position Iten as a World Class Municipality has been launched in an elaborate ceremony that also saw the official unveiling of the World Athletics (formerly IAAF) Heritage Plaque that was awarded to Iten.
Already, the British Government has given Ksh 400 million as seed capital to kickstart the economic plan that is set to transform the Municipality into a modern metropolis.
British High Commissioner to Kenya H.E Jane Marriott and Sports Cabinet Secretary Dr Amina Mohammed presided over the launch, held at the Governor’s square.
The Urban Economic Plan was developed by Atkins Consultants hired by the British Government’s Sustainable Urban Development programme (SUED) and will among others see the establishment of a modern sports elite hub and sports park in Iten town.
Other benefits include setting up of world class tourism and hospitality facilities, modern markets and bus terminus, solar energy projects, cottage industries for agro-processing and modern road network including running tracks for athletes.
Speaking during the event, the High Commissioner said her government had picked on Iten among 12 other municipalities in Kenya owing to its fast growth and its status as a world athletics training destination.
Marriot said the economic plan would harness Iten’s world class sports and tourism potential and its agricultural economy to create investment opportunities for the private sector and job creation for locals.
She said the UK government would support the plan with continued seed funding to attract more investments to the town.
CS Amina said the recognition of Iten as a World Heritage site confirms the importance and contribution of Iten to global athletics history. She lauded the Iten economic plan saying it demonstrated the power and synergies that partnerships can generate.
“The development of the elite sports hub and Iten sports park will be at the core of nurturing athletics talent,”she said.
Host Governor Alex Tolgos said the plan would be implemented in phases over immediate, medium and long term scale. He said the economic blueprint would be largely private sector driven with government only coming in to create an enabling economic environment.
“Out of the 7.9 billion capital investment, 20% will be taken up by government and donors while the other 80% will be opened up for private investments and Public Private Partnerships (PPP),” he said.
The Governor thanked World Athletics for the recognition bestowed on Iten as a global heritage site owing to its contribution to the growth of world track and field athletics saying it would help market Iten international and attract further investments.
Athletics Kenya President General Jackson Tuwei who also graced the occasion called on the residents and the County Government to take advantage of the recognition to woo tourists and investors to Iten.
World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe who addressed the meeting via a pre-recorded message said Iten deserved the recognition for nurturing many world champions.
During the function, Environment Principal Secretary Dr Chris Kiptoo led in inaugurating the Elgeyo Marakwet County Implementation Committee on the attainment of 10% forest cover nationally by 2022.
He said the ministry would work closely with the County Government to create running tracks in forests in the County to ensure the athletics had clean environments to train in.
Also present during the function were Athletics Kenya officials led by the North Rift Chairman Jackson Pkemoi and top athletes who have trained in Iten including Ineos Champion Eliud Kipchoge, Mary Keitany, Moses Kiptanui, Ezekiel Kemboi, Leah Malot, Wilson Boit Kipketer among others.
Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich, County Assembly Speaker Kiplagat Sabulei, County Commissioner Ahmed Omar, Atkins Team leader Duncan Onyango and other development partners, national and county officials also attended the function.