Methodologists usually say, “Things are not always as they seem; the first appearances deceive many”. Just before the August 9, 2022, General Election, those aspiring for political positions told citizens many inspiring things.
Political leaders promised drastic improvement in the public sector, reduction in the cost of living, public debt, creation of jobs and to make Kenya a world-class working nation of meritocracy, ethics, patriotism and entrepreneurs.
Under 100 after the elections, we are being reminded by those leaders that the country is not yet out of the woods. Yes, things are not as they seemed since the foggy economic situation demands hard choices and a smart start. That brings us to the core arguments of this article.
What are the great challenges for Kenya’s future now and how do we rediscover the nation’s indigenous, own formula for greatness and prosperity?
The following four challenges and how to deal with them will define Kenya’s greatness and economic prosperity.
The first challenge is massification of extreme poverty and economic inequalities, which appears to have expanded. The World Bank defines “extreme poverty as living on less than $2.29 per person per day or on less than Sh278.60 per person per day.” About 20 per cent of Kenya's population, or over 11 million Kenyans live in extreme poverty, and most of them are living in rural areas.
The second challenge is the rising cost of goods and services, unemployment, stagflation and the ever expanding national debt and annual deficits. Due to increasing cost of fuel, the war in Ukraine and other factors, the cost of living is rising by the month.
In the Arid and Semi-Arid lands, about 70 per cent of households experience extreme poverty. Unemployment among the country’s youngest population is becoming unbearable.
According to the Central Bank of Kenya, 60 per cent of our revenues pay public debt while our hospitals lack drugs and our universities are broke. The value of stalled projects is Sh9 trillion, pending bills of both national and country governments are Sh600 billion.
More worrying is the red flag raised by the newly elected governors about ghost workers who got paid Sh35 billion. Kenyans deserve better.
The third challenge facing Kenyans is the effects of drought and climate change. Drought is causing mass losses of livestock, food shortages, crop failures, health problems and anxiety.
President William Ruto eloquently represented Africa at the two week's Conference of Parties (Cop 27) in Egypt where he pointed out that climate change impacts could cost African nations $50 billion annually.
The fourth challenge worrying Kenyans is the effect of our youthful democracy, devolution and national security. The nation is still on the learning curve on matters democracy, devolution and development as envisioned by the Constitution.
In this process of gaining more experience in our state-building activities, there is continuous need for reinventing the machinery of government and the public service.
In the light of these four chief challenges for the nation’s future, its only prudent for us to work hard and discover the formula for Kenya’s greatness and future prosperity.
Such formula for greatness could include, first, constitutionalism. Second, a high performing public service with world class ethos, results, reliability, resources and relationships.