Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance has made a pitch for its ambitious bottom-up economic model, which the outfit is betting on as the panacea to challenges facing the country.
In the formation’s manifesto unveiled yesterday, the coalition hailed its approach as the springboard to reviving an ailing economy saddled with a ballooning public debt.
Consequently, it plans to target the informal sector, not only as the solution to employment, but also as a potential engine of industrialisation and growth.
The manifesto points out that Kenya’s workforce has 19 million people but just under three million or only 15 per cent, work in formal jobs in the public and private sector, with the latter employing two million, while the public sector has just under 900,000.
This is as the other 16 million (85 per cent) work in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) both formal and informal, which ranges from well-established small and medium-size that offer its owners and employees stable dependable income, to the unlicensed street vendors whose livelihoods are akin to a daily lottery.
For the latter, only 6.5 per cent starts with a capital of Sh50,000, compared to 43 per cent of the informal ones, though it takes capital to make labour productive.
Therefore, bottom up economics is about investing the limited capital available where it will create the most jobs -- at the bottom of the pyramid.
There is a commitment to invest Sh500 billion over the next five years in small holder agriculture and the informal sector, commitment to end exclusion and criminalisation of livelihoods, and level playing field for all investors -- big and small.
The model also means reforming the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to level the playing field among all Kenyans in terms of health and old age security as well as making it possible for a Jua Kali artisan to afford the cost of the insurance premiums.
“In a nutshell, bottom up economics means making Kenya not just a middle income country in terms of GDP averages, but a middle class society in every sense of the word,” says the manifesto.