President Uhuru Kenyatta and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stamped a mark on the future prosperity of East Africa. The deal signed to deliver railways and electricity infrastructure bodes well to trade, investment and job creation.
It was refreshing for Kenya’s private sector to enjoin government at bilateral talks with China and as eyewitnesses at the historical signing ceremonies. Private sector bakes the national cake. Government distributes the national cake. Partnership between bakers and distributors of the national cake was out in full display during the Chinese Premier’s visit to Kenya at the weekend. Kudos to the inventive leadership of CS Amina Mohammed and PS Karanja Kibicho at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who made it happen.
Kenya’s ‘cost to live’ and ‘cost to produce’ has been inhibited for far too long by mistrust and inadequate infrastructure i.e. transport, electricity and security. Consequently, the capacity to create jobs in Kenya diminished as we hurtled into a supermarket of imported goods with high levels of unemployment – a vicious economic cycle.
Then come the weekend of May 10, 2014 where government demonstrated real seriousness in rightsizing the ‘cost to live and cost to produce’ in Kenya. Deals signed with the Chinese delegation at State House to fund railway, electricity and security infrastructure should kick-start a long awaited virtuous economic cycle.
The missing ingredient now is TRUST. Trust between government on the one hand and private sector, civil society and media on the other. Mediocre narratives and deeply ingrained negative attitudes continue on display from significant actors in Kenya’s private sector, civil society and the media. The ‘disaster myopia’ seems to engulf the so called bakers of the national cake. We seem perpetually stuck to the rear view mirror. Past scars, make media, private sector and civil society actors paranoid and distrustful of government and its intentions.
This distrust and paranoia towards government initiatives by citizens, the private sector, media and civil society is exhausting energy and dissipating focus. We cannot fish by draining the pond. It is evident that Government is finally putting the best foot forward in terms of infrastructure. The least the rest can do is grant GoK deserved cheerful support to accelerate delivery of the last mile on infrastructure.
And may we begin by supporting removal of all barriers towards realization and issuance of the sovereign bond. Kenya’s statement of net worth can accommodate debt to speed up delivery of infrastructure. Mute the political noise and proceed to pay the Sh1.4 billion Anglo Leasing court judgment. Yet at the end of day allow Kenya’s National Treasury to tap international money to fund security, counties, health, education, sports, youth and women.
The Success of the Eurobond should drop cost of borrowing significantly. It is time to support government proposals without of course giving up necessary oversight and vigilance role of the active citizen. Well done Mr President and Well done Mr Deputy President. So far so good on infrastructure.
God bless Kenya.
(Igathe is the Chairman, Kenya Association of Manufacturers)