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Nyandarua, Elgeyo Marakwet ahead of Nairobi in counties with most productive residents

Bounty harvests in Nyandarua and Elgeyo Marakwet have put them at the pole position as the most productive counties in Kenya.

A groundbreaking report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has found that residents of Nairobi were the third most productive, behind Nyandarua and Elgeyo Marakwet which had the first and second highest Gross County Product (GCP) per capita (per person) respectively.

The national statistician calculated GCP per capita by dividing the total value of all finished goods and services produced in a county by its population.

Even critical, the report sought to debunk the oft-repeated myth that Nairobi contributes over half of the overall economy in what is likely to result in massive re-engineering of investment in the country.

“We know that, for the first time, Nairobi does not contribute 60 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product),” said Jane Kiringai, the chairperson of the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) when KNBS unveiled the 2019 Gross County Product (GCP) yesterday.

She also hinted at the use of the results in allocating resources to counties.

Nonetheless, Nairobi’s GCP was the largest contributing 21.7 per cent to the country’s gross domestic products (GDP). Nakuru, came second, racing ahead of Mombasa and Kisumu that enjoy city status.

Nakuru contributed about 6.1 per cent to GDP, or the sum of all goods and services produced in the country in 2017.

The findings of the 2019 Gross County Product (GCP) – the GDP of each county – will also disappoint a group of politicians from the Mount Kenya region whose push for more resources to be funnelled to their backyard said their region contributed 60 per cent to the national cake.

Setting the record straight

“We know that Mt Kenya region contributes over 60 per cent of our country’s GDP yet only 20 per cent comes back to its people,” said nominated MP Cecily Mbarire who chaired a caucus of 70 Members of Parliament drawn from the Mount Kenya region.

However, an analysis of the data shows that all the counties from what has been known as Mount Kenya region contribute less than 20 per cent combined.

Nyandarua’s average spending per individual, or GCP per capita, more than doubled from Sh135,315 in 2013 to Sh350,321, the highest among the 47 devolved units.

Nyandarua is famous for production of fresh produce, including Irish potatoes, cabbages, dairy products and horticulture.

Agricultural productivity also lifted the productivity of Elgeyo Marakwet whose GCP per capita also increased by 151 per cent to Sh197,923 in 2017.

At Sh34.7 billion, Marakwet’s agricultural output was more than Uasin Ngishu, the other of Kenya’s food basket from the North Rift.

Mandera had the lowest GCP per capita at Sh28,602, meaning the residents are worth a paltry Sh2,383 in a month.

West Pokot and Turkana were the second and third last counties in GCP per capita.

The report also showed that some counties were doing badly, with some of them having virtually no industries.

The county GCP figures may also play a key role in how the national cake is shared with the Commission of Revenue Allocation hinting that those with higher potential will get more funds to boost their productivity.

“In making recommendations, we need to take into account this data on revenue potential,” Ms Kiringai said.

In the new formula, CRA considered the devolved functions such as health, agriculture, early education and technical training. These have been grouped into three categories of service delivery component (which has a weight of 69 per cent), development component (26 per cent) and revenue and efficiency component (five per cent).

The CRA chair said the absence of a framework of assessing the county revenue potential has been creating a lot of volatility in the previous formula.

“We have always been concerned when we see revenues from counties dropping year on year. Nairobi is a good example where we have seen revenues drop,” she said.

“So we want to ensure to the extent possible and within the mandate of the commission that we can actually kick in the right incentives, not to undermine the cost of doing business but to ensure counties are operating at their potential,” Kiringai said.

KNBS data has helped counties identify their comparative advantage – or what they can produce at very minimum cost – where they could channel their resources to grow faster and compete.

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