Potential for positive socioeconomic transformation through rural industrialization: evidence from the Magana Industrial Park in Kenya
Mugenda, Olive M.
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Social and economic development in rural Kenya has largely been ignored by the market forces and the state although the Third Sector (civil society and non-government organizations) have established operations in those areas. As a result, rural areas continue to experience low growth and high poverty with most of these regions being highly marginalized and disenfranchised. Little efforts have been made to reverse these trends though the new constitution on devolved governance and the strategic plan of Vision 2030 promise positive changes once they are fully implemented. In the new constitutional dispensation, counties will become the new engines of social and economic development mandate to mobilize savings and investments and grow their zones socially and economically. The current study hypothesizes that rural industrial parks may well be the best avenues for promoting the lacking development and achieving social empowerment. Using a sample of 902 households living proximate to a semi-rural industrial park, the study found that indeed local residents highly rated positive impacts of the park on basic services and infrastructures required for economic development. In addition, labour migration heralded positive social interactions among members of diverse ethnic communities and contributed in establishing a ‘social synergy’ that significantly created harmony, social groupings and business organizations that advanced economic pursuits . These findings support a framework for rural social and economic development as envisioned by Vision 2030. Policymakers should thus consider promoting rural industrial parks to achieve the desired social and economic goals decentralized and devolved governance