, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has cautioned Kenyans against abandoning their regular economic activities in the wake of the oil discovery in Turkana, saying the discovery is not a panacea to the country’s problems.
Noting that the country has comparative economic advantages in the region, the Prime Minister urged Kenyans to stay their usual course as if oil has not been discovered in the country.
Odinga made it clear that oil was only a means not a solution to Kenya’s economic challenges adding it was important to manage people’s expectations so that they do not abandon their usual economic activities in anticipation of reaping from the oil revenues.
The PM was speaking in his office on Wednesday when he held talks with a delegation from the African Development Bank (ADB) led by the bank’s regional director for East African Resource Centre Gabriel Negatu who paid him a courtesy call.
He said: “Kenyans should not abandon the country’s traditional economic activities including agriculture, tourism, infrastructure development, finance and the vibrant Information, communication and telecommunication (ICT) sector in anticipation of easy money from the oil revenue.”
Odinga at the same time emphasized that wealth from the oil will benefit all Kenyans saying it was the government’s view that the oil revenue be invested to generate more wealth now and for posterity.
“Of course Turkana will benefit more from the revenues which will be used to develop the region where the oil discovery was made,” he said. “We intend to fully involve the local people in the programme.”
The PM went on to say that the same principle will apply to the development of the Lamu port where the local people will be trained to take up most of the jobs at the port.
Noting that ADB has the capacity in the best practices in the management of natural resources, the PM expressed optimism that the Bank would work with the government of Kenya in building capacity for the country to prudently utilize the oil revenue.
Odinga stated that it was imperative to manage the resources meticulously lest Kenya falls victim to the African curse where in many other African countries with oil have fared badly after the oil discovery.
The ADB has sent six directors to Kenya to discuss with stakeholders including the Turkana and seek consensus for government approach to coordinate the resources and have a shared view in managing expectations.
It is their view that Kenya should not come up with new projects other than those envisaged in the Vision 2030.
A task force headed by Investment Secretary Esther Koimett has been formed to come up with an action plan. It is composed of the ministries of Environment and Natural Resources, Energy and Water. They will report to a high level policy making body before end of the year on the way forward.