The World Bank has recently unveiled a very optimistic update on our economy. It shows that we have the potential to experience a GDP growth rate of 5.3 percent next year. This could even go up to six percent provided that there are no unforeseen shocks.
The reasons they have attributed to our accelerated growth are not hidden from you and I. We are all aware that the investment by the government in infrastructure played a big role in reviving the economy. We are also thankful for the improved weather conditions and we know that the passing of the new Constitution was just as critical to empowering citizens in taking their civic duties seriously and responsibly.
It was an unprecedented year for us. We demonstrated to the world that we are a resilient people who love our country and are determined to preserve our well-being despite global and local setbacks.
As a businessman, I am convinced that our economy can return to the growth trends we experienced prior to the bungled 2007 elections.
I believe that we can even surpass the projections provided by the World Bank so long as we circumvent any local man-made shocks that can negatively affect our economy.
For example, we know very well that the ICT industry has revolutionalised business by opening up new markets especially those at the bottom of the pyramid. The sector is undoubtedly one of the primary drivers of growth in Kenya and can individually accelerate our growth by a percentage point.
Why is it then that we have allowed competition to rear its ugly head at the expense of the consumer? When the people and government sit back and watch major market players sabotaging service delivery, we are in effect creating our own local shocks that can impede this growth.
If anything, the innovation in the ICT sector has demonstrated to Kenyans that there will always be ‘blue oceans’ or new market space ready to be tapped. We should not accept such practices as normal business practices if we expect to achieve the status of a global ICT hub.
Secondly, one of the other factors touted to bring on robust growth next year is the new Constitution. Knowing full well the impact the implementation can have on our economy, I feel that the government should take on a more aggressive role in ensuring its execution.
Perhaps, what the ordinary Kenyan needs to understand is the financial and economic implication of a constitutional impasse. What effects does it have, if any, on trade and investment; on leadership; on peace in the country and region etc? What are the actual effects that trickle down to the ordinary mwananchi and how do these affect his livelihood?
Here, I would like to call both on government and the civil society to conduct national civic education on this topic. We know that it is only when we empower Kenyans, that they can be able to take concrete actions. It is only then that they can be able to lobby their area representatives and pile pressure on them to make the necessary decisions.
If Kenya can run a very successful referendum under very demanding conditions, we know that we have the capacity to implement this Constitution as well… successfully.
What is clear to me is that we must at all costs protect the growth factors, if we are to achieve the desired growth momentum for our sake and for the future of this country. If that means that we continue investing in infrastructure, let us ensure that all monies allocated to this cause are not misappropriated.
Let us continue to engage our EAC members to enhance free trade and movement of people within member countries demonstrating that there is more value to be gained than lost. Let us continue to hold our politicians accountable for their actions, knowing full well that while politics feeds the psyche of the nation, it can also impede its growth.
Let us always understand that there is a direct co-relation between harmful business practices and dirty politics to the overall growth of our economy.
Most importantly, it is clear to me that the government must provide an environment that supports innovation; that ensures strict enforcement of regulations; that protects the consumer and ensures fair play by the competition if that Vision 2030 is to become more than a pipe dream.
Yes, a six percent growth rate is not just projections; it can become a reality in 2011.