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Vote wisely to root out graft, distribute our wealth equally

The first step is to vote wisely. [iStockphoto] 

By December 2020, only 26,971 Kenyans had secured mortgage loans in the course of that year. This was revealed in the Central Bank of Kenya’s Residential Mortgage Market Survey 2021. Although these mortgage loans increased in 2021 to approximately 40,000 they are still a drop in the ocean.

Considering that approximately 15 million Kenyans are over the age of 35, there are millions of Kenyans who should afford mortgages.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of working Kenyans cannot afford these loans, says a lot about the wealth distribution in our country.

According to Oxfam, less than 0.1 per cent of Kenya’s population own more wealth than the bottom 99.9 per cent.

This means approximately 8,300 Kenyans own more wealth than at least 44 million Kenyans. Along a similar vein, the richest 10 per cent of Kenyans earn about 23 times more than the poorest 10 per cent.

Due to these glaring financial disparities, Kenya’s super-rich is growing richer at a rate that is one of the fastest in the world.

Evidently, Kenya is now one of the most economically unequal countries in the world.

How did we arrive here? More importantly, how can we flee from this unfortunate predicament? We can start by uprooting corruption. Corruption rips apart the pockets of Kenyans and siphons money from them into the greedy hands of a few corrupt individuals.

That’s because we lose one-third of our national budget through corruption.

This shocking information was revealed back in 2010 December by Treasury officials testifying before a parliamentary committee.

This figure was corroborated six years later in 2016 by none other than Philip Kinisu, the then Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman.

This year’s budget was Sh3.3 trillion while the 2021/2022 budget was Sh3 trillion. If we lost one-third of the funds in any of these budgets, we would have lost Sh1 trillion.

Since the SGR cost roughly Sh420 billion, an amount of Sh1 trillion can build an SGR of more than 1,000km.

If you add up lost trillions from previous years, you will have enough money to build an expressway from Busia to Mombasa. Think of what such an infrastructural leap would do to our economy.

Tackling corruption will free up billions that can be used for all manner of infrastructural projects that will further open the country’s interior so that economic growth can be inclusive of all Kenyans. Seven out of ten Kenyans live in rural areas.

According to the World Bank, most poor people live in rural areas. They are the ones that must partake of the wealth being created. The wealth currently mostly confined among the 8,300 Kenyans who own more wealth than the bottom 99.9 per cent.

While our major urban centres like Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru are not as poor as rural areas, they are also home to millions of poor people.

In 2020, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics released the first-ever comprehensive poverty report. According to the report, nearly 16 million Kenyans are living in poverty.

The report described poverty as an adult earning less than Sh3,252 in rural areas and Sh5,995 monthly in urban areas. This should convince us about the glaring unequal wealth distribution.

To emerge successfully from this tragic inequality, we must take immediate and strategic steps. The first step is to vote wisely. As Jackson Mati said, ‘Nothing goes wrong, it can only start wrong”.

The moment we elect the wrong leaders, we should not look surprised by the obvious results. If we elect ethical and effective leaders with the political will to expend those trillions in a professional and just manner, then Kenya’s wealth will be shared equally across the country.

More importantly, Kenyan entrepreneurs of all levels must ensure their voices are heard, not just through their votes but also through their establishments.

They must continue agitating for a tangible economic growth pathway that transforms communities. Think green, act green!