Ruto’s US Trip: A Critical Analysis Of Missed Strategic Opportunities For Kenya’s Growth

By Steve Biko Wafula / Published May 23, 2024 | 10:16 am



Ruto

President William Ruto’s recent state visit to the USA presents a significant opportunity for Kenya, one that could have been strategically centered around the five key factors of production: land, labor, capital, entrepreneurship, and technology. Kenya’s vast natural resources, including arable land and minerals, could be leveraged to attract US investment in agriculture and mining. During his trip, Ruto should have emphasized partnerships with American agribusinesses to establish African headquarters in Kenya, ensuring regions are designated for large-scale farming to boost food security and economic growth.

Ruto’s itinerary included meetings at Spelman College and discussions on higher education, which highlighted the importance of labor in Kenya’s development. By focusing on labor, Ruto could have sought collaboration with US educational institutions to enhance skills and training for Kenyan workers, preparing them for roles in emerging industries. This approach would align with his broader economic goals and address unemployment by creating a highly skilled workforce ready to support new ventures.

In meetings with US corporate leaders, including those from Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, Ruto could have sought significant capital investments. By securing funding from the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), Kenyan farmers could gain access to affordable credit, enabling them to scale their operations. Encouraging US corporations to establish production centers in Kenya would also help absorb the growing number of graduates, tapping into Africa’s large market potential.

Read Also: Dear Mr. William Ruto, Si Heri Utunyonge Basi

Kenya’s entrepreneurial landscape is vibrant, with SMEs generating 80% of the country’s jobs. Ruto’s discussions with venture capitalists and other financiers should have focused on creating favorable conditions for these entities. Facilitating easy access to credit through partnerships with banks, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), and the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) could significantly bolster SME growth, fostering innovation and job creation across various sectors.

Ruto’s engagements in Silicon Valley last year and his current visit underscore the critical role of technology in Kenya’s future. Collaborations with tech giants like Elon Musk and Bill Gates could drive technological advancements and research initiatives in Kenyan universities. By prioritizing R&D, Kenya can develop homegrown solutions to its challenges, from healthcare to environmental sustainability.

Kenya’s mineral wealth, particularly in gold, offers another avenue for attracting US investment. Ruto should have aggressively sought investors to establish processing facilities, transforming raw materials into finished products domestically. This strategy would create jobs, enhance value addition, and position Kenya as a significant player in the global minerals market.

Given Kenya’s tropical climate and health challenges, Ruto’s visit to the CDC headquarters was timely. However, establishing medical research centers in collaboration with US institutions could further advance Kenya’s healthcare sector. Such partnerships would enable cutting-edge research and development, addressing both local and regional health issues.

In meetings with US officials, including President Biden, Ruto should have prioritized discussions on combating insecurity and corruption. Training programs and technical support from the US could enhance Kenya’s capacity to deal with these pervasive issues, improving governance and fostering a more stable environment for investment.

Climate change is a global challenge that Kenya is keenly aware of. Ruto’s address on shared climate solutions at the Smithsonian highlighted the need for collaborative efforts. By advocating for sustainable practices and green energy investments, Ruto could align Kenya’s developmental goals with global environmental priorities, ensuring a resilient future.

A crucial part of Ruto’s agenda was to seek a long extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This trade agreement, which provides duty-free access to the US market, is vital for Kenyan exports. Extending AGOA would encourage more US businesses to invest in Kenya, promoting long-term economic growth.

Celebrating 60 years of US-Kenya diplomatic relations, the visit was also about reaffirming strategic partnerships. By focusing on mutual interests such as peace, security, and democratic values, Ruto aimed to strengthen bilateral ties, ensuring continued support and collaboration from the US.

Ruto’s engagement with the Kenyan diaspora in Atlanta emphasized their role in national development. By fostering strong ties with the diaspora, Ruto can leverage their remittances and expertise, further integrating them into Kenya’s economic and social fabric.

The visit to Tyler Perry Studios and the launch of Vivo’s retail fashion store in the US highlights the potential of Kenya’s creative economy. By promoting cultural exchanges and creative industries, Ruto can diversify Kenya’s economic portfolio, attracting tourism and investment in arts and entertainment.

Ruto’s discussions on regional issues, including the conflicts in the DRC and South Sudan, underscore Kenya’s role in promoting peace and stability in Africa. By playing a proactive diplomatic role, supported by the US, Kenya can enhance its leadership position on the continent.

Read Also: The Big Noise In William Ruto’s Cabinet As CSs Pull In Different Directions

The 5 KEY Factors of Production should have informed and dictated the USA 🇺🇸 trip by Ruto.

The five factors of production are:

  1. Land: This includes all natural resources used in the production process, such as minerals, forests, water, and arable land.
  1. Labor: The human effort, both physical and mental, that is used in the production of goods and services.
  1. Capital: This encompasses the machinery, tools, buildings, and technology used in the production of goods and services.
  1. Entrepreneurship: The initiative to combine the other factors of production into a productive venture, involving risk-taking, innovation, and the ability to make decisions.
  1. Technology: The development of tech in various aspects has defined the skills, expertise, and know-how that contribute to the efficiency and productivity of the production process.

If I were Ruto, I would focus on the above 5 factors to inform my meetings with potential USA 🇺🇸 investors. I would:

  1. I would seek partnerships with large-scale farm equipment manufacturers to come and set up a plant in Kenya as their Africa HQ. Then I will ensure that Parliament gazettes certain regions for large-scale farming on key crops across the food chain.
  1. I would also seek funding for AFC so that our farmers can have access to affordable and sustainable credit to enable them scale up their farming.
  1. I would impress upon all large corps in the USA 🇺🇸 that it would behoove them to set up their production centres in Kenya so that we can ensure the full absorption of all our graduates. I will rope in the fact that Africa is a big market for their products and services and hence having a presence in Kenya would be critical.
  1. 80% of jobs in Kenya 🇰🇪 are created by SMEs. Entrepreneurship in Kenya is buzzing. I would seek all VCs and other creditors to offer special conditions for them to come and work with our banks and CMA and NSE to ensure ease of access to credit within a weeks time for SMEs across all the sectors.
  1. No country can grow without production. I would pitch to the USA 🇺🇸 investment group to come and camp at Kariobangi Light Industries and have them pump their money there. This would literally usher Kenya into its critical Industrial revolution and a change for Africa.
  1. I would pitch to the likes of @elonmusk @BillGates etc to come and pump their money and leverage their technology with all our universities and carry out all sorts of research. This would be a priority for me as President because it’s through R & D that a country finds its solutions to its challenges.
  1. Kenya has minerals such gold in the western part of the country. I would aggressively seek for investors to set up facilities across the country and process all these minerals.
  1. Given that we are in the tropicals, I would push for investors to set up medical research centers across the country with KEMRI.
  1. The issue of insecurity and corruption is a big thorn in our flesh. I would seek out the support of USA 🇺🇸 to train our people to be able to combat the above across all sectors of governance.

Kenya 🇰🇪 is a huge opportunity. We just lack the right leadership. Ruto had the one key opportunity to change the trajectory of our country and instead made it into a family comedy day out.

The USA 🇺🇸 trip is a big opportunity for Kenya 🇰🇪 to position herself globally but well, let’s enjoy the TikToks from @eddiebutita and group.

While Ruto’s visit included significant engagements, the focus could have been sharper on the five key factors of production. This strategic approach would not only have attracted more substantial investment but also set Kenya on a definitive path towards sustainable development. The visit’s true impact will depend on the implementation of the agreements and partnerships formed during this critical state visit.

Read Also: Let Us Allow President William Ruto To Rule For 25 Years, He Is The Savior We Need




About Steve Biko Wafula

Steve Biko is the CEO OF Soko Directory and the founder of Hidalgo Group of Companies. Steve is currently developing his career in law, finance, entrepreneurship and digital consultancy; and has been implementing consultancy assignments for client organizations comprising of trainings besides capacity building in entrepreneurial matters.He can be reached on: +254 20 510 1124 or Email: info@sokodirectory.com

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