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The Telescope


Agriculture has been the bedrock of Kenya’s economy even before independence but the story has changed.

Today, the government can no longer reassure farmers that they can eke a living alongside the current wave of industrialization to provide the bulk of Kenya’s sustenance. More so, laws that once supported the country’s mainstay are so discriminatory it’s a miracle farmers still make a living out of agriculture.

Theoretically, the government has an elaborate food policy but it has yet to activate it. For years on end it has dragged its feet over what, admittedly, are difficult political and economic decisions.

As it is, Kenya is barely food self-sufficient. It’s like a cork bobbing on water which could easily go under.

Trip down memory lane At independence, the division of numerous formerly white-owned farms among Africans was a political necessity but over the years that has changed.

Although it is politically impossible to reverse that division today, there are alternatives to halt further fragmentation. coffee

Take for example the coffee industry. In its current state, it is clearly a crime against farmers. This sector has for years been manipulated and disoriented to facilitate the exploitation of the many by the rich few.

However, Kenya is not-yet an industrialized country, so there is not much one can do until jobs can be found meaning that in many ways more than one people still depend on agriculture.

But as days go by coffee farmers are ageing and their children don’t see a future in farming. Most of them make less than a dollar a day in their household. Farm sizes are small and continue to shrink due to population pressures. Chances are bleak for farmers and they will not hold out any longer.

Today, it’s unbelievable that farmers wallow in regulatory bondage whilst they can grow and sell their own crops.

More so, agriculture is a devolved function and county governments can provide farmers with soft loans to buy milling equipment so that through their cooperatives, they can process their produce to do value addition.

Counties can also help train farmers not just about crops, but also processing and marketing.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and the political class must seize the arc of history and correct this injustice and give farmers the chance to farm their way out of abject poverty.

He can free the farmer from regulatory bondage, allow them to grow, process, sell and own their own crop at fair pricing for both the dealer and farmer.

He should investigate the coffee sector with a view to prosecuting those who have brought in corruption, vandalism and thievery that have cost hardworking and innocent farmers so dearly.

This article was published on People Daily on Friday 4th December 2015

The Telescope


The runaway graft in Kenya is not news. Politicians and public servants squander public resources with impunity. Besides, they justify their wayward practices without shame.

Those who oppose the vice are threatened or done away with. Those who ‘eat’ are glorified while those who value ethics and integrity are vilified.The annoying reality is that the country is sinking into debt as individuals illegally accumulate wealth.

In the wake of inflation and rising bank interest rates, business and families are bound to operate on shoe-string budgets. Such scenarios, as history shows can erupt into civil restlessness- that can lead to even more wanton waste and destruction. In the long run, the corrupt and straight citizens are affected.

Kenya has been fiscally irresponsible. We have gone on spending and looting sprees, ignoring experts’ advice. For long, the annual deficit has been more than the annual economic growth rate. Consequently, the net debt has exceeded one-third of gross domestic product.

“The anti-graft agency should be given powers to prosecute without fear or favour. It should not be swayed through political manipulation. Once the graft kingpins see action, not rhetoric, they will stop the vice”

Ultimately, we are now paying the price of extravagance. Kenya’s financial status must be told as it is. Announcing populist measures with zero reflective signs only serves to evade the problem.

Though the Vision 2030 has achieved some mileage, the larger dream could be thwarted by poor leadership and self-seeking interests. The country’s economy will be dented and so will other key sectors.

While the middle class might not feel the actual impact of corruption, it will be a different scenario for slum dwellers who survive ‘well’ on minimal resources. The families, under stable heads cross over to the neighbouring leafy suburbs to earn a coin. In the evening or when they are paid, they spend their earnings thriftly.

Kibera Slums

Their patience could be overstretched if they witness their employers living in opulence as they try to stretch their cents.

Nations are no different from individual families. A family with sober leadership will survive through hard times and so will a country with wise leaders.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has the opportunity to save Kenya’s economic-socio-political situation. He should deal with the rogue leaders and public servants who want to take the country to the dogs. He should sack non-performing crooked leaders to save Kenyans from inflation and high bank interest rates.

He should reclaim illegally acquired wealth and enforce values and ethics in institutions. The anti-graft agency should be given powers to prosecute without fear or favour. It should not be swayed through political manipulation.

Once the graft kingpins see action, not rhetoric, they will stop the vice. This country should enforce policies that address wastage and pilferage. We should heed advice to avoid duplication of responsibilities that translates to duplication of payment.

One can now imagine the positive impact our former constitution would have had in the current phase of slowdown in the presence of uncontrolled wastage. Any takers?

This article was published on People Weekend on October 17-18, 2015

The Telescope


In the recent past, investors and trade experts have placed great interest in the Kenyan market, leading the country to reap vast economic benefits. But this had not been the case for a long time, given grave corruption scandals , policy uncertainty and the importance of patronage and political connections in the business arena.

However, the government has continually placed emphasis in prioritising reforms and great strides have been taken in their implementation. To date, the actions taken have generated positive opinions in the local and international business community.

The international community also needs more convincing in the country’s rising economic prosperity and whether it’s sustainable in alleviating the level of poverty across the nation. Even while huge capital investment projects that Kenya craves for to sustain growth continue to be injected into the market, there still has been a constant trend of failure to ensure inclusive growth.secretaries

It is not lost on us that the government has either selectively or collectively failed to provide employment for the burgeoning youthful population. And it is these youth who are being radicalised into terror groups.

Then, instead of being part of Kenya’s growth they are acting as a real threat to growth especially when considering the important role of security and stability in, meaningful economic growth.

It is important to note that the government’s national development agenda as articulated in the various policy documents is grounded on alleviating poverty, creating wealth, and improving the welfare of the common person.

“It is not lost on us that the government has either selectively or collectively failed to provide employment for the burgeoning youthful population.”

To achieve this, there is a general need to return to integrity and accountability in the management of public resources, efficient and fair administration of justice, institutionalisation of democratic government, respect for and enforcement of human rights and the development of strong and stable institutions of governance.

On the other hand, increased private investment will require sustained improvement in the investment climate. Currently, the reforms and the recent improvements in economic performance have not altered the perceptions of the Kenyan and international business communities that the business climate requires intensive modifications.youth

Also a broad range of factors that contribute to a poor business and investment climate, including infrastructure, tax rates and administration, corruption, cost of finance, crime, informal business practices, regulatory uncertainty draw to an unbalanced economic environment.

However, this is Kenya’s moment- Africa’s moment and the world is watching. The challenge in implementing a tenable policy roadmap should be one that is addressed quickly and aggressively. Half of Kenya’s population is covered by the youths and each year there are 200,000 more 20-year-olds than the year before.

The only true challenge is in transforming this youth bulge into an opportunity so as to propel this country into its implicit success.