How Kenya’s Government Can Address The Multiple Challenges Facing The Country And Turn Around The Economy

By Steve Biko / Published May 14, 2023 | 2:23 pm




KEY POINTS

To create more jobs, the government needs to invest more in sectors that have a high potential for growth and employment creation, such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, ICT, and renewable energy5. The government also needs to provide incentives and support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are the backbone of the economy and employ about 85% of the workforce.


Economy

KEY TAKEAWAYS


Corruption is an endemic challenge facing Kenya, as it undermines the rule of law, democracy, and development of the country. According to Transparency International, Kenya ranked 124 out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2020, with a score of 31 out of 100.


Kenya is a country going through so much. The current administration is facing serious political opposition from the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) Alliance led by Raila Odinga, who accuses the government of fraud in the 2022 presidential election, mismanagement of the economy, and violation of human rights.

The opposition has staged several protests in the past months, demanding electoral reforms and lower cost of living, which have been met with police brutality and violence. The protests have also disrupted the normal functioning of the country and affected its already fragile economy.

The government of President William Ruto has agreed to a temporary truce with the opposition and expressed willingness to engage in dialogue over some of the issues raised by the protesters. However, the government has yet to show how it will address the multiple challenges facing the country, such as creating jobs, reducing poverty, making healthcare affordable, making education more relevant, enhancing security, combating corruption, and tackling gender-based violence. These are some of the pressing problems that affect millions of Kenyans and require urgent and effective solutions.

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Creating Jobs

One of the main challenges facing Kenya is unemployment, especially among the youth. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the unemployment rate in Kenya was 10.4% in 2021, up from 5.2% in 20194. The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation, as many businesses have closed down or reduced their operations due to lockdowns and restrictions. The lack of jobs has increased poverty, crime, and social unrest among the population.

To create more jobs, the government needs to invest more in sectors that have a high potential for growth and employment creation, such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, ICT, and renewable energy5. The government also needs to provide incentives and support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are the backbone of the economy and employ about 85% of the workforce6. The government can also promote entrepreneurship and innovation among the youth by providing access to finance, training, mentorship, and markets for their products and services.

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Reducing the Cost of Living

Another major challenge facing Kenya is the high cost of living, which has eroded the purchasing power and living standards of many Kenyans. The inflation rate in Kenya was 9.2% in February 2022, mainly driven by rising food and fuel prices. The Covid-19 pandemic has also increased the cost of health care and education for many households. The high cost of living has triggered protests and discontent among the population, who demand lower prices for basic commodities and services.

To reduce the cost of living, the government needs to implement policies that will stabilize prices and increase incomes for consumers. Some of these policies include:

  1. Subsidizing essential goods such as maize flour, cooking oil, sugar, milk, bread, and kerosene.
  2. Reducing taxes and levies on fuel and electricity.
  3. Increasing minimum wage and social protection for workers.
  4. Expanding universal health coverage and free primary education.
  5. Improving infrastructure and public transport to reduce congestion and transport costs.

Making Healthcare Affordable

Healthcare is another key challenge facing Kenya, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Kenya has a ratio of 1.5 doctors and 12.9 nurses per 10,000 people, which is far below the WHO recommended threshold of 44.5 health workers per 10,000 people. The country also faces challenges such as inadequate health infrastructure, equipment, and supplies; low health financing and insurance coverage; poor quality and safety of health services; and inequitable access to health care across regions and socio-economic groups.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed these weaknesses and overwhelmed the health system, especially in terms of testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment of cases. The pandemic also disrupted the provision and access to essential health services, such as maternal and child health, immunization, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and non-communicable diseases. The pandemic also increased the risk of infection and burnout among health workers, who have protested over the lack of adequate PPE, salaries, and benefits.

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To make healthcare affordable and accessible for all Kenyans, the government needs to implement policies that will strengthen the health system and ensure universal health coverage. Some of these policies include:

  1. Increasing investment in health infrastructure, equipment, and supplies, especially at the primary health care level.
  2. Recruiting, training, retaining, and motivating more health workers, especially in rural and underserved areas.
  3. Expanding the national health insurance scheme to cover more people and services, especially the poor and vulnerable.
  4. Improving the quality and safety of health services by enforcing standards, guidelines, and regulations.
  5. Enhancing coordination and collaboration among different actors and sectors involved in health service delivery.

Making Education More Affordable and Relevant

Education is another crucial challenge facing Kenya, as it affects the development of human capital and the future prospects of the country. According to the KNBS, Kenya has a literacy rate of 81.5%, which is lower than the average of 86.6% for sub-Saharan Africa. The country also has a high dropout rate, especially at the secondary level, where only 50% of students who enroll complete their education. The main barriers to education include poverty, gender inequality, child labor, early marriage and pregnancy, disability, insecurity, and poor quality of education.

The Covid-19 pandemic worsened the situation by disrupting the education system for over a year. Schools were closed from March 2020 to January 2021, affecting over 18 million learners. The closure of schools had negative impacts on learning outcomes, mental health, nutrition, protection, and socialization of children. The reopening of schools in 2021 faced challenges such as overcrowding, lack of water and sanitation facilities, shortage of teachers and learning materials, and increased risk of infection and transmission of the virus.

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To make education more affordable and relevant for all Kenyans, the government needs to implement policies that will ensure access, quality, equity, and relevance of education at all levels. Some of these policies include:

  1. Increasing funding and allocation for education, especially for infrastructure, teachers, and learning materials.
  2. Providing scholarships, bursaries, and subsidies for poor and vulnerable students, especially girls, to reduce dropout rates and improve retention and completion rates.
  3. Improving the quality and relevance of education by implementing the competency-based curriculum, enhancing teacher training and supervision, and strengthening assessment and evaluation systems.
  4. Promoting digital literacy and online learning by expanding access to ICT devices, internet connectivity, and digital content for teachers and learners.
  5. Enhancing the safety and protection of learners and teachers by enforcing Covid-19 prevention protocols, providing PPE and sanitation facilities, and addressing issues such as bullying, violence, abuse, and harassment.

Enhancing Security

Security is another vital challenge facing Kenya, as it affects the stability, peace, and development of the country. Kenya faces various security threats such as terrorism, violent extremism, inter-communal conflicts, crime, cyberattacks, and environmental disasters. These threats have resulted in the loss of lives, displacement of people, destruction of property, disruption of economic activities, and violation of human rights.

The Covid-19 pandemic also posed new security challenges for Kenya. The pandemic increased the risk of social unrest due to economic hardship, political tension, and public dissatisfaction with the government’s response. The pandemic has also strained the capacity and resources of security agencies to respond to existing and emerging threats. The pandemic has also created opportunities for criminal and terrorist groups to exploit the situation and recruit more followers.

To enhance security for all Kenyans, the government needs to implement policies that will address the root causes and drivers of insecurity, as well as strengthen the response and resilience of the security agencies. Some of these policies include:

  1. Promoting dialogue and reconciliation among different communities and groups to foster social cohesion and prevent violence.
  2. Addressing the underlying factors that fuel terrorism and violent extremism such as poverty, unemployment, marginalization, radicalization, and ideology.
  3. Strengthening the capacity and professionalism of the security agencies by providing adequate training, equipment, and resources, and ensuring accountability and respect for human rights.
  4. Enhancing intelligence and surveillance capabilities by using modern technology and data analysis to detect and prevent threats.
  5. Strengthening regional and international cooperation and coordination on security matters by sharing information, resources, and best practices.
  6. Increasing public awareness and participation in security matters by involving communities and civil society in prevention and response initiatives.

Combating Corruption

Corruption is another endemic challenge facing Kenya, as it undermines the rule of law, democracy, and development of the country. According to Transparency International, Kenya ranked 124 out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2020, with a score of 31 out of 100. The country also lost an estimated 6.3% of its GDP to corruption in 2019, according to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. Corruption affects various sectors and institutions such as public procurement, health, education, security, judiciary, legislature, and executive.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the extent and impact of corruption in Kenya. Several scandals have emerged involving the misuse and embezzlement of funds meant for the Covid-19 response. For instance, the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) was accused of irregular procurement of PPE and other medical supplies worth billions of shillings. The Auditor General also reported that several counties could not account for millions of shillings allocated for Covid-19 emergency funds.

To combat corruption in Kenya, the government needs to implement policies that will enhance transparency, accountability, and integrity in public service. Some of these policies include:

  1. Strengthening the legal and institutional framework for fighting corruption by enforcing existing laws and regulations, and enacting new ones where necessary.
  2. Empowering and resourcing the anti-corruption agencies such as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Judiciary to effectively investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
  3. Promoting public participation and oversight in governance by ensuring access to information, whistle-blower protection, citizen feedback mechanisms, and social audits.
  4. Enhancing ethical leadership and culture by enforcing codes of conduct, asset declaration, lifestyle audits, and sanctions for corrupt officials.
  5. Building partnerships with other stakeholders such as civil society, media, the private sector, and the international community in the fight against corruption.

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Tackling Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is another pervasive challenge facing Kenya, as it affects the dignity, rights, and well-being of men, women, and girls. According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014, 45% of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence and 14% have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. The most common perpetrators of GBV are intimate partners, relatives, or acquaintances. GBV has serious consequences for the physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health of survivors, as well as their economic and social empowerment.

The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation of GBV in Kenya. The lockdowns and restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the virus have increased the exposure of women and girls to abusive partners or family members at home. The pandemic has also reduced access to essential services and support for GBV survivors, such as health care, legal aid, shelter, and counseling. The pandemic has also increased the risk of other forms of GBV such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and sexual exploitation and abuse.

To tackle GBV in Kenya, the government needs to implement policies that will prevent, respond to, and eliminate GBV in all its forms. Some of these policies include:

  1. Enacting and enforcing laws and regulations that criminalize GBV and protect the rights of survivors.
  2. Strengthening the coordination and referral mechanisms among different actors and sectors involved in GBV prevention and response.
  3. Increasing the availability and accessibility of quality and comprehensive services and support for GBV survivors, such as health care, legal aid, shelter, counseling, and livelihoods.
  4. Raising awareness and sensitization on GBV among the public and specific groups such as men, boys, religious leaders, traditional leaders, media, and security personnel.
  5. Addressing the root causes and drivers of GBV such as gender inequality, poverty, alcoholism, and mental health.

In Summary, this is what the Kenyan government can do to turn around the economy; Here are 40 things the Kenyan government can do to turn around the economy:

  1. Reduce taxes and regulations on businesses. This will make it easier for businesses to operate and create jobs.
  2. Invest in infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and power plants. This will improve the efficiency of the economy and make it more attractive to investors.
  3. Support research and development. This will help businesses develop new products and services that can compete in the global market.
  4. Improve education and training. This will create a more skilled workforce that can meet the needs of businesses.
  5. Promote tourism. This is a major source of foreign exchange for Kenya. Promote both foreign and local tourism.
  6. Expand trade with other countries. This will open up new markets for Kenyan goods and services.
  7. Attract foreign investment. This will bring in new capital and technology that can help Kenya grow its economy.
  8. Fight corruption. Corruption undermines the rule of law and makes it difficult for businesses to operate.
  9. Enforce contracts. This will create a more secure environment for businesses to invest.
  10. Protect property rights. This will give businesses the confidence to invest in Kenya.
  11. Streamline the bureaucracy. This will make it easier for businesses to get the permits and licenses they need to operate.
  12. Improve the legal system. This will make it easier for businesses to resolve disputes.
  13. Provide access to credit. This will help businesses finance their operations.
  14. Promote entrepreneurship. This will create new businesses and jobs.
  15. Support small businesses. Small businesses are the backbone of the Kenyan economy.
  16. Invest in agriculture. Agriculture is the largest employer in Kenya.
  17. Support farmers. This will help increase agricultural productivity.
  18. Improve access to markets. This will help farmers sell their crops at a fair price.
  19. Invest in irrigation. This will help farmers grow crops during the dry season.
  20. Promote value addition. This will help farmers get a better price for their crops.
  21. Invest in livestock. Livestock is another important source of income for Kenyans.
  22. Support livestock farmers. This will help increase livestock productivity.
  23. Improve access to markets. This will help livestock farmers sell their animals at a fair price.
  24. Invest in veterinary services. This will help prevent diseases that can kill livestock.
  25. Promote value addition. This will help livestock farmers get a better price for their products.
  26. Invest in fisheries. Fisheries are a major source of food and income for Kenyans.
  27. Support fishermen. This will help increase fish catches.
  28. Improve access to markets. This will help fishermen sell their fish at a fair price.
  29. Invest in fish processing. This will help fishermen get a better price for their products.
  30. Promote value addition. This will help fishermen get a better price for their products.
  31. Invest in tourism. Tourism is a major source of foreign exchange for Kenya.
  32. Promote cultural tourism. Kenya has a rich culture that can attract tourists.
  33. Develop new tourism products. This will help attract more tourists to Kenya.
  34. Improve infrastructure. This will make it easier for tourists to travel to and around Kenya.
  35. Promote safety and security. This will make tourists feel safe in Kenya.
  36. Invest in education. Education is the key to economic development.
  37. Improve access to education. This will help more Kenyans get an education.
  38. Make education affordable. This will help more Kenyans afford an education.
  39. Improve the quality of education. This will ensure that Kenyans are getting a good education.
  40. Invest in research and development. Research and development is essential for innovation and economic growth.

These are just a few of the things the Kenyan government can do to turn around the economy. By taking these steps, Kenya can create a more prosperous future for its citizens.

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