While elections invoke hope for a better future, they depress economic growth in Kenya. A report commissioned by International Monetary Fund dubbed ‘World Uncertainty Index’ (WUI) released on Tuesday this week showed Kenya was the second most uncertain investment destination globally in 2017.
That year, Kenya held presidential elections twice amid heightened political temperatures that eroded investor confidence and slowed down economic performance, especially after most of the investors either chose to scale down, closed shop or relocated to neighbouring countries in fear of possible outbreak of violence. Those fears were not entirely unfounded; our tendency to violence after disputed elections have sullied the country’s reputation.
The WUI report, however, goes on to show that investor confidence peaked after the March 9, 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga. Indeed, following a lacklustre performance for a long time, the Kenya shilling firmed post the handshake. Thus, the message is clear; that if we get our politics right, the path to a steady economic growth is guaranteed. Get it wrong and everything goes haywire. No investor wants to put his money in a country where it could go up in smoke in the blink of an eye.
The WUI report should act as an eye opener to those entrusted with leadership and the onus of uplifting the lives of ordinary Kenyans. If the Building Bridges Initiative, put together to find ways of uniting Kenyans can find a solution to this perennial problem, it should be supported wholeheartedly, for we can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.