What you need to know:
- Developing our country takes time, and we cannot expect to become a middle income country overnight
By MYLES LEO
I might not be the wisest person in the room, but I do know when a piece of wisdom should be followed. One such statement I always live by is a proverb brought to us from our West African brothers and sisters: Look for a dark goat first in the daytime, because you might not find it at night.
What does this elusive sentence indicate, if anything at all? I always took it to mean that you should take the opportunity to achieve your goals when you can, before it gets too late to do so.
While I also believe that it is never really too late to accomplish something you are truly seeking, I do believe that starting early and putting in a lot of time is the key to any great achievement. Young children are very lucky when they have supportive parents who encourage them to take up hobbies at a young age, and to follow a passion that could later turn into a career.
The same concept can also be applied to economic development. Kenya is categorised by international ranking systems as a low income country. That is how we have been since independence.
Investing time in developing our country takes time, and we cannot expect to become a middle income country overnight. President Uhuru Kenyatta laid out the Big Four Agenda as part of his policy to achieve our Vision 2030 development goals in the next decade.
Even in ten years, we might still be looking for the goat. Industrialising and modernising a country that has gone through so many hardships in the past is a time consuming endeavor, but it is achievable.
Consider, for example, the four Asian Tiger nations. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea have developed into high income economies in recent decades as a result of prudent economic policy, wise planning and a unified sense of nationhood, with all citizens working for the same goal.
Before the global health pandemic began to slow us down, Kenya’s economy was steadily growing. It certainly would have been impossible to predict that 2020 would turn out the way it has thus far, but that does not mean it is too dark already to keep looking.
We should not use this difficult period to simply give up the elusive search for greatness. Kenya is on the cusp of great things. We certainly have more challenges to deal with than last year, but we can find solace in acknowledging that each and every country in the world has its own extra set of challenges to deal with this year.
While most low income countries might, as per usual, be more affected than the wealthier countries, it does not mean that we can allow ourselves to give up the fight.
Over the past several years, Kenya has been recognised as the leader in regional diplomacy, security, and environmental policy. Nairobi is thriving as one of Africa’s top tech centres and Mombassa still serves as one of the main entry points for goods entering the continent, as well as those leaving it to be sold in international markets.
We are constantly growing as a nation. And what makes this possible is the fact that we have become more unified than ever.
As we reel in the aftermath of Covid-19, let us keep searching for bigger and better things. If we decide that the shutdown gives us an excuse to give up working hard and hoping for better, then it might get too dark for us to see the value we have right in front of our eyes.
Kenya is a land of growth and regeneration, and we have earned this moniker due to our insatiable knack for seeking out what we can achieve. Let us continue in this spirit, and make sure that Covid is just a blip on our road to realising our goals.
Mr Leo is a public policy analyst. [email protected]