Data on economy vital if leaders could just read and interpret right

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and President William Ruto enjoy roasted maize as they chat with small scale traders during the launch of the Hustler Fund. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has just published a rich document in which it notes where the country is coming from and where it is likely headed. Many would want to only read the state of the economy in the 2022 economic survey, but there are so many truths to power in there that can change the course of the country. 

It is not just economics; did you know if you are single and searching the survey points to where you can find a less quarrelsome spouse. In the report Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua may change tack in his approach to illicit brews, if he reads it, that he blames for low birth rates in his Central backyard. If the truthful man consumed data, he would definitely see the consumption of contraceptives in the country has gone up and it is all methods used to keep pregnancies at bay from pills to IUCDs.

It would also not shock him to find out that women in his backyard are the largest consumers of the birth control methods.

Trade deficit

Coincidentally, the same data shows women from the region are engaging in sex with multiple partners. Murang’a has the highest number of women who engaged in sex with multiple partners as pointed out in the Health Survey by the KNBS released early this year.

The data is rich but only makes sense if officials can interpret it. The country’s trade deficit is at a whooping Sh1.6 trillion. 

We sell to the world items worth Sh800 billion but buy goods and services valued at Sh2.4 trillion. This is a pointer that the government is backing the wrong horse in terms of manufacturing policies and value addition. 

A good example is the case of the Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria ranting about a Chinese investor selling wares cheaper than folks at Gikomba and Nyamakima but does not exude equal vigour in selling the mantra buy Kenya Build Kenya...of course give credit to government on paper they are going to open Export Processing Zones across the country. But one is left to wonder how these will even halve the trade deficit when we are in Zambia trying to farm maize instead of manufacturing fertiliser locally to reduce the cost of production. 

The role of ICT in both personal wealth growth and the boost in the economy is well documented, heck it was second in terms of growth at 9.9 per cent after the financial sector, but when you have senior government mandarins in that ministry leading in misinformation and half-truths then we have a government that cannot read the writing on the wall.

More Kenyans are turning to stealing and this could be the result of the unbearable cost to living. Mental health is a big issue but to officials it’s just data. The leaders Kenyans depend on may not read and analyse such literature to make lives better and the future brighter.  Lastly, the report says the drop in growth is the result of the Russia Ukraine war, effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drought experienced last year. Whereas there is little the country can do with regards to the war, the vagaries of the pandemic have lessened significantly and the challenge for the leaders is how to stop relying on rain-fed agriculture as the backbone of the economy. 

Tea was the biggest commodity we sold to the world. The quantity dropped because of poor rains but its price rose as a result the country sold more compared to the previous year. Mitigation policies against poor rains reminds any Kenyan of the Galana-Kulalu project. The latest story is the Anglican Church approaching the government for some land there to propagate animal feeds.

Perennial food shortage

It was supposed to be an irrigation project that would bring to an end perennial food shortage and reliance on importation. Well, that like many other projects came a cropper, the latest tiff in government is the reallocation of a dam project from Central Kenya to Ukambani for political convenience and even the Water minister is up-in-arms.

I repeat the writing is on the wall. To quote the survey: “The 2023 growth will be hampered by a decline in domestic demand as a result of elevated inflation and sustained high interest rates.”

When you have a government that is so cavalier in its approach to growth and empowerment and politicians who do not want to read, then as predicted by some charlatan preachers, doomsday is nigh.