KENYA 2030:EMPTY RHETORIC IS NOT ENOUGH.
Nothing is as impressive as a well written document, with a detailed ‘vision’, the right sounding statistics and a plan of execution. Our government is very good at this kind of thing. The only shortcoming: it never gets to the execution part. Consider the Kenya 2030 vision, is it going to be successfully implemented?. Nobody knows.
All rhetoric, if not accompanied by meaningful action is useless. The path to industrialization/technological advancement and self sufficiency starts by tackling the very basic challenges. A good place to begin would be by empowering the ordinary citizen through sufficient education and the economic means to make a living and move up the social ladder. How are we doing on these fronts?. Last year, about 800,000 students sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education [ K.C.P.E ]. Over 119,000 of those students will miss out on form one places. These kids will never have a high school education. Let us suppose that every year [ unless this issue is addressed] the same number of candidates will miss out on high school education. In ten years, we are talking about over a million kids being denied a high school education. These are our entrepreneurs, innovators, educators, leaders etc. The very people upon whom the role of advancing any vision falls on. If we leave them behind, then who is going to build our country?. How about some portion of that money that the MPs are over paid, or the huge cost of maintaining our senate and congress [ the huge government that we have expanded and that we have no need of ] going towards our education sector, or equipping our depleted hospitals?. If we want Kenya to become an industrialized country, that is where we ought to start. On gaining independence, Kenya set out to fight the following vices: ignorance, poverty and disease. It is sad indeed to see that 50 years later, we are still fighting the same.
Recently, the government passed a law imposing a tax on all mobile monetary transactions starting from shs 101. It gave its’ reasons for imposing the tax, citing the usual technical jargon to justify the decision. Not long ago in Kenya, it was a real hassle for an ordinary citizen to open a bank account in the so called main stream banks. One had to maintain a certain minimum balance at all times, a balance whose amount was out of reach for many ordinary citizens. This made conducting many monetary transactions through banks an impossibility for many Kenyans. Come M-PESA, and any citizen can enjoy services like money transfer hassle free. This new tax will impose an extra financial burden on the ordinary citizen because safaricom and the other mobile phone service providers will not shoulder it. Is this the way to realize our vision 2030s and the like?.
One would think that whatever is produced locally should at least be within reach of the ordinary citizen [ cost wise]. Look at maize, sugar, coffee etc. These are locally grown crops, which besides coffee make up part of many Kenyans daily diet. Yet, their prices are out of reach for many Kenyans [ and they keep going up]. In Kenya, when the price of any commodity is driven up by the laws of supply and demand, we never hear of it coming down. Not even after the prices stabilize elsewhere and the same laws dictate that they come down. Can we truly achieve our visions if more than half the population lives under the poverty line and can hardly afford to put a meal on their tables [ if at all they have any ]?. If the government is serious about any visions and future projects, regulations have to be put in place to protect the ordinary citizen/consumer. Otherwise, all this talk about building a stronger Kenya is empty rhetoric, unless we first address the basics.
By Kiongo Muigai.
Birmingham, AL USA.