Why Ranguma, Kidero flopped in county study

Evans Kidero and Jack Ranguma did the worst job at empowering their constituents during their terms as Nairobi and Kisumu governors respectively, a report has said.

In a damning indictment on their performance as the two counties’ first governors, a report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) ranks them as the worst performers in personal productivity.

The study sought to rank the contribution of the various counties to national wealth as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) and by extension what constituents were the most productive.

While in both counties the wealth generated by each individual grew over the five-year period to 2017, they recorded the least increase at 19.8 per cent for Nairobi and 31.5 per cent for Kisumu despite both having city status.

Nairobians generated an average of Sh317,700 in 2017, up from Sh265,300 in 2013 when Dr Kidero assumed office at the advent of devolution.

For Nairobi, the mainstay was construction and manufacturing, which have stalled for extended periods, with many investors closing shop over the past decade owing to high costs of doing business.

About 57 per cent of all manufacturing in the country happens in Nairobi. According to the report, the slowdown in construction was informed by fears of an overheating property market.

In Kisumu, most of the economic pillars remained subdued during Mr Ranguma’s tenure.

A possible explanation that might exonerate the leaders could be the high prevalence of poverty in the informal settlements that are common in major towns.

Best record

In effect, devolution appears to be yielding bigger results in predominantly rural counties, where the leadership can invest in areas that are more productive and with immediate results to the people, including agriculture. Regardless of the excuse for the dismal performance in the productivity index, both Kidero and Ranguma failed to secure re-election in the August 2017 polls.

But in a rather inexplicable twist in the findings, Nyandarua’s Waithaka Mwangi, who had the best record, also did not secure re-election after being floored by former principal secretary Francis Kimemia.

In the country, the productivity per person nearly tripled in the five years Mr Mwangi occupied the coveted office.

Over the five years, the average citizen in Nyandarua generated over Sh350,300 a year, up from Sh135,300 in 2013.

Agriculture was the key pillar that lifted the county to the top, according to KNBS, with the crops grown there, including vegetables and potatoes, being consumed in Nairobi and other regions.

Investors are also turning to Nyandarua to grow flowers for export, predominantly roses, which collectively form Kenya’s second most important export after tea

Despite Mwangi’s seemingly stellar performance as an administrator, going by the economic empowerment of the ordinary folk, he was easily ousted from office, implying that it takes more than improved fortunes to impress the average voter. 

Elgeyo Marakwet recorded the second-fastest growth in productivity after Nyandarua, with both counties registering about three times the national average of 58 per cent.

Ex-GovernorsKNBSGDPEx-Nairobi governor KideroJack Ranguma