Will Kenya really achieve Vision 2030?

Roseleen Nzioka

Kenya Vision 2030 is an economic development plan by the Kenyan government to develop several different economic zones in various parts of the country.

The plan aims to produce annual economic growth rates of 10 percent by 2015 and sustain that through 2030 by investing in infrastructure, including roads, rail, airports and ports.

Currently, Kenya is barely making a GDP of 4per cent not least because of the aftermath of the post-election violence of 2007/2008.

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So far some investment in infrastructure- specifically road network - is visible. The other areas – rail, airports and ports are still at proposal stage and we are yet to see tangible results from these proposals.

The vision calls for a series of five-year plans, with the first one being between 2008-2012. The first plan calls for investments in six key sectors with 20 flagship projects.

The targeted sectors are tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, information technology, and financial services. Out of these six sectors only information technology and financial services can claim any semblance of serious investments whose benefits have trickled down to the masses.

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It was announced on June 10, 2008, that the district of Isiolo, will be the first project to be developed. The plan calls for Isiolo to become a tourist center that will include casinos, hotels, upscale retail outlets, a modern airport and transport facilities. Foolish optimism? Maybe.

The Kenyan Government announced during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing that they plan to place a bid for the 2028 Olympic Games as part of Kenya Vision 2030. Ahem!

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Going by UN reports the urban areas in Kenya will almost double by the year 2030, and will dominate the nation with more than two-thirds of the population being centered in the urban areas.

World Development Indicators 2007, report found that, in the past decade, poverty reduction was not always or everywhere commensurate with income growth. In some countries and regions, inequality worsened, as poor people did not reap the fruits of economic expansion, because of a lack of job opportunities, limited education or bad health.

In Kenya many of the economic and social gains made in the first five years of President Kibaki’s regime were completely eroded by the consequences of the post-election violence of 2007/2008.

The government has at best casually addressed the dire consequences of the violence that saw death and destruction at a scale not seen in post-colonial Kenya.

We still have IDPs in camps three years after the upheaval, and loss of property that may never be recovered. And the government thinks that a photo opportunity where a government official is seen doling out food rations to IDPs is a sign of "helping" them.

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According to the World Bank, economic growth is essential to reducing poverty, but it isn't the only factor. The World Development Indicators go beyond growth and poverty rates to ask how income is distributed, whether health care and education are improving, and to assess the business environment. These factors all affect the quality of people's lives.

In 2007 the World Bank added new data on the performance of governments. Governance indicators are tools for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of public institutions. Capable governments and high-quality institutions promote growth, raise incomes, and reduce poverty, the bank found. Hopefully with the implementation of the new Kenyan Constitution, our public and private institutions will become beacons of high performance and subsequently the centres through which Kenyans may realise Vision 2030.

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Vision 2030 World Bank