Monday, January 11, 2010

Kenya: the reality vs fiction gap

If the only thing you did was to read Kenya's daily newspapers; online bloggers/twitters or watch Kenyan TV; it fair to say that Kenya would always be going to the dogs...
However, travel a little bit and you realise that;
  1. Economic growth is taking place. The combination of PEV in 2008 and the long-lasting drought in 2009 would have tested any nation's economic resilience. That the economy still grew is a miracle.
  2. Real estate boom is not just Nairobi based and not priacy driven, but its quite wide spread with mnany other underlying drivers like population growth
  3. Youth underemployment is an issue yes, but is partly driven by a lack of drive among them? Many want to work in the cities not necessarily because of higher wages (which go along with higher costs anyway), but because its the done thing. Yet, Kenya is starving i.e. opportunity to go into agri-business; there is a gap for tree growing business projects; there is a gap for flooding barriers and water harvesting; there is a gap for rural road building.
  4. For travelling on noisy mathrees in which you can't hold a conversation or concentrate on the view outside (sometimes you only know you're near CBD because of the traffic jams); read listening to howling politicians who won't let Kenyans strategise about development or even see where we are going.
  5. Tribalism: Given our environment, it should be know surprise that many of us are easy prey for demagogues. Something like 70% of us only interact with fellow tribesmen for 360 days of the year. We think, speak, conduct business, socially interact, politic in our own mother-tongues and we roughly the same peeps. We thus rarely think/speak/interact in our national language. We spend most of our time thinking about issues appertaining to our own nation (tribe as opposed to the larger Kenya). This we only change if we (a) allow students at secondary level access to schools in other areas outside their provinces (b) the continued urbanisation of the nation.


Maishinski said...

I also saw some strong indications of recovery (or imminent recovery)... All we need is for politicians (local and foreign) to behave like civilised, patriotic citizens and Kenya will shoot to "newly developed" status real quick...

Hope is strong. The timing has never been so right and so positive (New constitution, the Obama factor, world cup, global economic recovery, china honeymoon etc)!

MainaT said...

True sir-happy new yr.