Kenya, a lower-middle-income economy, is one of the fastest-growing in Africa over the past two decades, albeit below the Vision 2030 double-digit target. Recent statistics show only 13 countries that grew at double-digits over four decades rose to higher-middle-income economic status—like China, Botswana, Singapore and Malta.
Our higher-middle-income economy target calls for doubling income per capita nominal levels. This calls on a clear pathway to prosperity that transcends over the decades, perhaps through the development of a Kenya Vision 2050 anchored on the bottom-up economic transformation philosophy.
The key focus areas would include macroeconomic stability; high investments and savings; sufficient resource allocation to growth target sectors; openness to growth technologies; credible commitment to growth; inclusion; and capable administration. The Ruto administration has shown a robust commitment and capability in this regard.
For the countries that transitioned to greater prosperity, evidence shows a robust focus on local regional socioeconomic development as well as global market positioning to assure the necessary conditions for growth are met. Hence the need for transformation in the manner the country has to deliver growth and development. Devolution and the bottom-up model will fast-pace the vision towards a sustained economic growth and development. The counties thus have a critical role in it.
One of the critical components to spur the growth envisaged by the Constitution is paying close attention to the needs of the citizen. Kenya has all the necessary conditions at the take-off stage but the debt burden strains public spending. Besides, projects implemented over the decade have not borne fruit in the form of more local revenues and foreign exchange and the country is investing its incomes to complete projects committed in recent years.
But there lies an opportunity in creating systems and adopting friendlier mechanisms in the quest to raise resources to power development plans by counties. The Kibaki administration, which the Kenya Kwanza government is emulating on revenue mobilisation, introduced customer- or people-friendly strategies that enhanced revenues.
Focus o customer service and stakeholder engagement to replace outright enforcement was built on the premise that the government is a shareholder in businesses, employers and employees. An investment climate and private sector development strategies that support expansion of companies; strong institutions, public or private; and a thriving workforce can grow the government’s shareholding, hence more resources for development.
Counties need to set up robust customer service and stakeholder engagement systems to grow the size and slice of the pie. A national guideline and a clarion call will enhance the “Kulipa Ushuru ni Kujitegemea” philosophy and create a mass customer service force, in all categories of sectors and leadership, as revenue enhancement champions.
- Mr Biwott is the managing director, Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company. [email protected].