My pledge to you: William Ruto unveils plan for a new Kenya

Deputy President William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto during the launch of the Kenya Kwanza Manifesto, at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi on June 30, 2022. 

Photo credit: DPPS

An investment of Sh500 billion over the next five years in smallholder agriculture and the informal sector is the centrepiece of Deputy President William Ruto’s ‘bottom-up’ economic model should he be elected President.

The Kenya Kwanza Alliance argues this investment “at the bottom of the pyramid” will create the most jobs as well as end exclusion and level playing field for all investors, big and small.

This proposal is contained in Dr Ruto’s manifesto anchored on five pillars- agriculture, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), housing and settlement, healthcare as well as digital superhighway and creative economy, that collectively he commits to spend Sh1 trillion over five years if he wins the August 9 presidential vote.

“We have chosen these sectors guided by six parameters including ability to bring down the cost of living, eradicate hunger, create jobs and increase our tax base,” Dr Ruto told the forum at Kasarani in Nairobi.

The alliance proposes to reform the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to change the contribution to family/household rather than individual as is the case with private insurance.

In new rates announced by the government, those earning Sh100,000 will contribute 1.7 per cent (Sh1,700) and Dr Ruto proposes the payment by one partner should be sufficient to cover the family instead of each spouse being deducted.

“In a nutshell, it (bottom up) 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,” reads the document launched yesterday in Nairobi.

To implement his five-point agenda, the DP has four implementation matrices, namely, quick wins, short term, medium term and long term.

This matrix, according to the manifesto, will ensure some of the short term benefits will start to be realised within six months of taking over the government while others that require policy change have a five-year timeline. For instance, Dr Ruto commits within the first 100 days in office to commission a review of salaries for all officers in the security sector to be commensurate with the cost of living.

To address food scarcity, the Kenya Kwanza coalition is promising to pump Sh250 billion in the agriculture sector in its first term in order to provide adequate affordable working capital to farmers through well managed farmer organisations.

This spending will improve food production and reduce dependence on basic food imports by 30 per cent.

The Kenya Kwanza coalition is also promising to deploy modern agricultural risk management instruments such as crop and livestock insurance schemes, commodity market instruments such as forward contracts, future contracts and price stabilisation schemes that will ensure farming is profitable and income is predictable.

Further, Dr Ruto is also promising to transform two million poor farmers to surplus producers through input finance and intensive agricultural extension support, with a target to generate a minimum productivity target of Sh50,000 revenue per acre.

To revamp the SMEs sector, Dr Ruto has promised to inject Sh50 billion every year to provide access to affordable credit through Saccos, venture capital, equity funds and long-term debt for start-ups and growth-oriented SMEs.

A Kenya Kwanza government will also work with county governments to provide one street trading premise per 50 urban residents, with a view to increasing average daily income of informal traders by Sh200.

Dr Ruto also commits his administration will establish a business development centre in every ward, and business incubation centre in every Technical and Vocational Education and Training (Tvet) institution.

Dr Ruto’s administration is also keen to sustain the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).  With a pledge of raising Sh200 billion over five years, the Kenya Kwanza government hopes to implement a fully publicly financed primary healthcare that gives patients choice between public, faith-based and private providers, based on a regulated tariff.

UHC will be anchored on four pillars which include fully publicly financed primary healthcare, universal seamless health insurance system comprising a mandatory national insurance (NHIF) and private insurance as complementary covers and national fund for chronic and catastrophic illness.

“We recognise that our healthcare system consists of public, private and faith-based providers, and each of them plays a critical role. However, public money only goes to public institutions, which means that people who are not insured have to pay out of pocket for primary health services when they seek services from faith-based and private providers, often because the public health facilities are not responsive,” reads the manifesto.

Dr Ruto has also promised to delink financing of primary healthcare from public facilities by establishing stakeholder managed Primary Health Care (PHC) Funds as strategic purchasers at each Level 4 facility.

The DP, however, played safe on the proposal to have a Health Service Commission as requested by the health professionals, promising to find a solution together with the county governments within the first 100 days in office since health is a devolved function. “We will be that honest mediator. We pledge to work together with the health workers and county governments to find a solution within the first 100 days of our administration.”

On manufacturing, Kenya Kwanza has promised to set up leather industry clusters in Athi River, Narok, Isiolo and Wajir and secure overseas markets to also create more jobs.

The coalition believes if well handled, the manufacturing sector can create 100,000 jobs as opposed to the current 17,000.

Under governance, the DP has promised to grant financial independence to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the police to prevent their reliance on the Office of the President and also entrench the independence of the Judiciary by implementing the Judiciary Fund.

Dr Ruto has also promised to appoint all judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission to the Court of Appeal within seven days.

To woo women, Dr Ruto has promised to reserve half of the Cabinet slots to women.

Under a Kenya Kwanza government, lower cadre officers of the rank of sergeant and below will be given the option of serving in their home counties from the age of 50 or where they chose to retire.

Dr Ruto has also promised police officers an insurance cover for loss of life on duty similar to that given to those in the military.

To reduce the cost of power, his administration has proposed four approaches — mobilisation of resources to revamp the transmission and distribution network, accelerate geothermal resources development and develop liquefied natural gas storage facility in Mombasa.

This is intended to phase out heavy fuel oil from the power generation portfolio and enforce transparency and public accountability of the electricity sector

On digital and creative economy, DP Ruto promised to reduce the cost of calls and data to allow wananchi and especially the youth to use online platforms for entertainment, information and business.

The DP is also promising universal broadband availability throughout the country within his first five years in office. “We shall increase and fast-track broadband connectivity across the country by the construction of 100,000km of national fibre optic connectivity network,” reads the document.

If the Kenya Kwanza coalition wins the August polls, 80 per cent of all critical government processes will be digitised.

There are goodies for people living with disability as the DP has promised to set aside 15 per cent of all public funded bursaries for them, allocate five per cent of all market stalls and five per cent of government tenders.

Under the infrastructure pillar and in a bid to enhance access to water, Dr Ruto is planning to shift from President Kenyatta’s method of building big dams, saying he will instead emphasize on water harvesting and recycling.

A total of Sh200 billion will also be allocated to complete all roads currently under construction by the Jubilee government. In addition, Dr Ruto’s government will also prioritise upgrading and maintenance of rural access roads and the improvement of roads infrastructure in urban informal settlements and critical national and regional trunk roads that have the highest immediate economic impact.

To the turbulent national carrier, Kenya Airways, Kenya Kwanza government is promising a turnaround to solve their financial woes and reliance on the exchequer within six months. “A critical plank of this strategy will be a financing plan that does not depend on operational support from the Exchequer beyond December 2023,” reads the manifesto.

On sports, the DP has promised to return Kenya into the international football arena by introducing County Sports Talent Academy with capacity to systematically identify promising sporting talent and provide necessary support through sponsorship to further their talent.

Under the social protection pillar, the DP has promised to eradicate malnutrition, especially among children, within five years and prioritise an integrated package of services for young children.

To the elderly aged 65 and above currently estimated to be around 1.8 million, the DP said he will ensure they are 100 per cent covered by NHIF within three years.

To strengthen devolution, the DP has promised to transfer all functions constitutionally earmarked as devolved functions to counties within six months and also ensure that shareable revenue is transferred to counties in a timely and predictable manner and in accordance with the law.

On housing, the DP has promised to increase supply of new housing to 250,000 per annum by structuring affordable long-term housing finance schemes, including a National Housing Fund and Cooperative Social Housing Schemes, that will guarantee off take of houses from developers.

To achieve this, Kenya Kwanza has promised to commit Sh250 billion in the Financial Year 2022/23.

Under foreign policy, the DP has promised to create a diaspora ministry that will handle issues raised by Kenyans living in foreign countries.