Most of the economic data in Kenya is at the national level. Only a few counties can give data on their economic growth, inflation and unemployment rates or even productivity levels.
Yet with devolution, counties were supposed to be centres of economic growth. How can we invest there without data?
Without official data, we can get our own proxies. Two stand out. One is the height and breadth of the buildings and the other is the amount of pork eaten.
High-rise buildings demand lots of money and the taller the buildings the more economic activities we expect. We could also look at the buildings in terms of square feet, and breadth.
Big factories are not tall but occupy plenty of surface area. High-rise buildings and “broad buildings” in the counties indicate the devolution of big money.
In the counties “broad” buildings are rare. The new tall buildings are hotels, well advertised. Clearly, economic activities in the counties are driven by consumption.
Check the tallest and broadest building in your county headquarters. What is it? Hotel, apartment block or factory?
Another proxy measure of economic growth is the amount of pork eaten or exported from the county. We have to exclude some counties for religious reasons.
Noted the signboards for pork in mostly central Kenya? Pork is easy to produce, almost at an industrial scale. That is unlike cattle, sheep or goats which need lots of space.
Someone could argue pork production is a sign of overcrowding too.
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Pork is one of the most popular meats in developed countries. The two indicators of economic growth are based on the private sector. We could in future get the number of buildings approved in the counties and the number of sows delivered to Farmer’s Choice.
Other proxy indicators could be the number of plots on sale, the amount of legitimate alcohol consumed, the number of students transiting to university, the number of homes with permanent houses and cars, or the number of households using LPG to cook.
Another curious proxy indicator of growth is the number of relatives abroad (majuu).
Extremists could even add the number of prostitutes.
What do you think are the best indicators of economic growth in your county? Share with us.