Monday, January 17, 2011

Kenya in early 2011

  • The economy is growing once more at an amazing speed. Growth is not as uneven as some would have you believe. You can see progress in as devise places as Nai with multi-estates coming up every year; Kisumu with electricity even in such outposts as Sengho on the Nandi/Muhoroni border; Nanyuki with its expansion towards Naromoru and Timau; even Diani is seeing some huge real estate growth as people wake up to the huge potential of South coast. Its not just real estate growth. Businesses as diverse as greenhouse farming to new hotels are seeing good and sustained business growth. However, we are still too dependent on good weather for continued economic growth.
  • Kibaki is road builder per excellente. The only that will thing stop you from doing Nai to Eldoret in under 3 hours is that you may pass on since Kenyans can't drive safely at speed and of course a few bits of new tarmac ruined by overweight trucks. Yes, Kisumu to Kakamega remains neglected still, but I can safely say it is one of the few bits of bad road I encountered in a tour that took in some 2-3,000 kms of roads
  • Corruption remains big and bold issue: I was asked for bribes a record 4 times in one holiday. Imagine the I land at JKIA, as I pass through the obligatory custom check and after the usual queries about what I am carrying, the custom guy asks for my passport. As soon as he saw my name, the conversation was surreal. The customer guy to his colleague who was about to inspect my wife's cases "we, hawa wako pamoja, wacha waende". Then he turns to me in kiuk and says "Maina, what you'll do is buy 3 beers" then to a kalau standing by. "Wewe enda na huyu atakupatia pombe tatu". The custom guy is obviously from the Sonko school i.e. not too bright. As soon as I get outside and I am there with waiting family, the cop is prodding me on the back ati "si ulete pombe tatu". I just said loudly, "unataka ni kuhonge". And he practically ran-off. Corruption is now seen especially in mashinani as the only way to get service when you encounter public servants. This has in effect created a real problem in tackling the issue because the giver and taker of bribes almost think alike. Lakini if you pay taxes, and still pay bribes, its like paying your worker a salary and then bribing him to do a task for you.
  • There is a now a huge political disunity among Kenyans which poses questions about 2012. Many uniformly agree that our politicians are a problem and sow the seeds of disharmony and yet when they are asked to, they'll back their tribesmen without questions. The Ocampo announcement day was very instructive in this respect. Before and immediately the announcement was made, Kenyans almost to a man were agreed that the guilty must carry their crosses, that Ocampo and the ICC were impartial and that Kenyans would not support impunity. In contrast, the first MP to be questioned about it, said "Ocampo has totally failed, he has targeted Nandis". Two things wrong with this, firstly, there was no challenge from the Citizen reporter since the 6 also include 2 gema and one somali. Secondly, even other politicians who came after were similarly one-eyed. By the end of the week, you would hear similar views from mashinani guys.

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