President Uhuru Kenyatta signs out of office having nearly doubled the country’s annual budget as he pursued mega projects and grew the size of the economy amid continued corruption.
The President has overseen a Sh24.27 trillion budget in nine financial years, and led in planning the Sh3.31 trillion budget that will be his successor’s duty to spend in steering the country forward.
From spending on mega projects, including dams, roads and railways, to social initiatives like Kazi kwa Vijana, Mr Kenyatta has continued to defend the choices of his administration but also admitted to shortcomings.
His is a legacy of many faces - mega projects and transformative ideas like Huduma Centres but with corruption as the elephant in the room that overshadows his wins.
“We cannot lie. The devil of corruption is still alive and well here in Kenya,” President Kenyatta remarked as the country marked its 59th Madaraka Day.
The verdict from the office of the Auditor-General has been dire: confirming wastage of public resources and pointing to the possibility that Kenyans did not receive full dividends from the Sh24.27 trillion spending.
But corruption has not been the only story. President Kenyatta’s administration went all out on ‘big push investments’ that were started by the Mwai Kibaki-led administration.
Projects in roads and rail, healthcare, education, agriculture, energy, titling of land, housing and social protection have been some of the areas closest to the President’s heart.
Huduma Centres have proven to be timesavers as Kenyans are now able to apply for documents such as passports, birth certificates and driving licenses online.
Budget allocations to education, county governments, security and infrastructure have increased during Uhuru’s tenure even as sectors such as food security and agriculture struggled.
The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), Nairobi Expressway, Thwake Dam, Likoni floating bridge, and the abandoned Galana Kulalu project have attracted praise and criticism in equal measure.
SGR, one of the projects Uhuru hails as one of his key achievements, led in raising infrastructure spending from Sh97.9 billion in 2013 to Sh187.5 billion in 2017, and a new high of Sh219.1 billion in 2022.
The naysayers, Mr Kenyatta said, told him not invest so heavily in infrastructure because “people don’t eat roads and floating bridges” but he decided to soldier on.
Mr Kenyatta has faced criticism over rising national debt, continued corruption, rising wage bill and a public fallout with his deputy William Ruto.
The President has, for instance, injected Sh3.83 trillion in education since 2013 majorly to fund primary, secondary and university education as well as vocational and technical training.
Funding to the Teachers Service Commission increased from Sh165.6 billion in 2013/2014 to Sh298.3 billion in 2021/2022, while that for technical and vocational training jumped from Sh5.7 billion to Sh24.6 billion.
Mr Kenyatta’s administration, despite increasing funding to universities from Sh56.6 billion in 2014 to Sh116.94 billion, has been slashing funds to this sector and wants the next administration to use Sh91.2 billion.
The security docket was one of the areas President Kenyatta kept a close eye on, especially with sporadic grenade attacks and large scale terrorism—Garissa University and Westgate Mall—having forced him into firm response.
The Kenya Defense Forces, National Intelligence Service and National Police Service have, during his term, received over Sh2.5 trillion as he prioritized projects to beef up security.
“I made your security a top priority because I know that without a secure environment, no life can flourish and no enterprise can thrive,” the President remarked last month.
Health has also been a priority area in the nine years. It received Sh766 billion, with the funding growing as Mr Kenyatta’s administration raced to actualise the Universal Health Coverage programme.
National referral and specialised services has been one of the key spending areas under health.
But controversies like the leased medical equipment scheme to counties and spending of Covid-19 funds have soured the healthcare dream.
The President, in what went down as his own scorecard, said while his administration has achieved a lot, he cannot claim that his was a team of perfectionists.
“My message to the nation today is that whereas we are claiming progress, we do not claim perfection,” he said during the Madraka Day fete.
One of the key areas attracting a lot of public attention as Mr Kenyatta exits power is the country’s food security and status of agricultural sector.
The cost of living has hit a 58-month high and several arid and semi-arid areas have experienced one of the worst droughts, pointing a spotlight on the country’s progress on projects such as irrigation.
Mr Kenyatta’s administration pumped about Sh468 billion on agriculture but some of the projects such as Galana Kulalu irrigation ended in anti-climax.
His administration also ran into corruption scandals in an attempt to roll out two grand dams - Aror and Kimwarer - forcing him to turn attention to smallholder irrigation projects.
Overall, Mr Kenyatta’s administration spent Sh102.7 billion on irrigation projects while efforts to boost agricultural output gobbled Sh259 billion. Other key expenditures were on energy sector (Sh877 billion), industrialisation (Sh92.5 billion) and social protection programmes (Sh508 billion).