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The Concept Note



Conference Theme:

Sustainable, productive, effective and efficient governments for results delivery

Date: 23rd -27th April, 2018

Venue: Kakamega County



Since its inception in 2013, the devolved system of governance has taken root in Kenya with all the forty-seven (47) County Governments fully established and operational. The requisite legislative framework (the County Governments Act, the Intergovernmental Relations Act, the Public Finance Management Act and the Urban Areas and Cities Act) having been put in place, have been instrumental in enabling Counties to set up necessary systems and structures that allow them to perform their functions. Of worthy import is that County Governments have gone further to establish decentralized units all the way to the village.

In four (4) years of existence, devolution has recorded significant milestones, especially in functions like health, agriculture, water, early childhood education and roads. The shift to devolution meant that resources, responsibilities and power were transferred to the Counties. Creating governments that are closer to the people has incentivized public participation in development planning, budgeting and legislation. It is in the first period of devolution that we witnessed citizens challenging certain laws in court for want of adequate participation.

Now we are in the second phase of devolution with a mix of newly elected and second term governors driving the development agenda of the Counties. It is now time for County Governments to overcome the initial challenges; build on what was achieved in the first term with the goal of delivering real time results to their constituents. Counties have been regarded as the frontiers for economic and social development, and if well managed, will transform Kenya into an industrialized, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to its citizens. But for these gains to be realized, it is imperative to cultivate synergy between the National Government, County Governments, intergovernmental institutions, citizens, constitutional commissions, independent offices, private sector, academia and professional bodies.

Kenyans have embraced devolution with a lot of enthusiasm. On the overall, Kenyans do believe that devolution is the best solution for sustainable and equitable development. Devolution is a catalyst for the country’s achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, County Governments are the local governance units that can support mainstreaming of SDGs, climate-smart solutions, gender, marginalized groups and minorities, youth, women and persons with disabilities, in planning.

Key conference Objectives

  1. To provide a forum for collaboration, cooperation and consultation in all matters related to devolution.
  2. To share experiences, challenges and lessons learnt in the last four (4) years and set clear targets for devolution for the next five (5) years.
  3. To celebrate the successes of devolution.
  4. To provide a platform for participants to identify opportunities for partnership.

Conference Format

The conference shall adopt a sector approach. The key sectors, which are in line with the President’s ‘Big Four’ and that will guide discussions in the conference are:

  1. Health;
  2. Infrastructure, Energy, Urban Development, Land and Housing;
  3. Agriculture; and
  4. Trade and manufacturing.

Each sector will have break-out sessions, and will address the emerging policy and legislative issues of that sector.

Conference Programme

The conference shall have a three day running Programme. All participants shall be required to travel on Monday 23rd April 2018 to the venue with the official opening ceremony planned for the Tuesday 24th April 2018. The President of the Republic of Kenya has been invited to open the conference.

There will be general plenums each day which will be held before participants can break out into sector sessions. These will address cross-cutting themes like: intergovernmental relations; human resource management; good governance and accountability; and development planning, budgeting and resource allocation. Additionally, the entire conference sessions shall endeavor to include in the discussions issues related to gender, youth, women, persons with disabilities and marginalized groups.

Structure of deliberations in the sector meetings

Each sector shall convene its own break out meetings as per the Programme. There shall be a guiding theme for each sector derived from the overall conference theme.

The respective technical team shall develop a sector based Programme to guide the discussions within the sector for the two (2) days of deliberations. The structure and content of the sectoral Programme shall be approved at the main multi-stakeholder planning meeting and at the steering committee level. Each sector session shall have a guiding facilitator.

Build up to the 5th Annual Devolution Conference

It is envisaged that there will be build up activities to the conference. One of the traditional activities that has always been undertaken is the County dialogues. This is a public participation exercise to brings together citizens of a County to deliberate on how devolution has impacted on their lives and what the County should do to improve service delivery.

Key players in this process are the County Governments’ County Secretaries and the County Executive Members in charge of Public Administration who will spearhead the initiative through mobilization of citizens. Civic Society Organizations will be included in both the planning process and in undertaking the exercise. The planned dates for the County dialogues are from 26th February to 23rd March 2018.

Other build up activities to the conference include: - TV interviews, radio interviews, Social media engagements, stakeholder’s breakfast meetings and newspaper opinions on the key sectors.



Attendees for the conference will be: representatives from National Government, County Governments and their officials, independent offices, constitutional commissions, civil society organizations, media, religious institutions, professional bodies, international experts, development partners, academia, private sector practitioners and sub-national government associations from the region and the world. This approach will facilitate the exchange of ideas and learning.


Registration of participants

Online registration will open one (1) month before and details will be provided on the COG web site. There shall therefore be no registration on the ground during the conference days. A registration fee of KSH. Twenty Thousand (20,000) shall be administered for all participants. Accreditation badges shall be issued after registration.


The proceedings and presentations made during this conference will be synthetized and published into a report – Conference Report. A final communique will also be generated at the end of the conference.

Expected impact

The conference’s proceedings is expected to (a) give greater publicity to successful policies, programs and initiatives that helped entrench devolution (b) support the call for increased allocation of resources to devolution as key to economic growth and development for Kenyans (c) mobilize all Kenyans including but not limited to those in business, academia, artists, religious and civil society actors that will safeguard, entrench and sustain devolution as the vehicle for inclusive growth process for the nation.