To realise economic prophecy, it’s time we believed in ourselves as a nation

The elusive promise of economic growth appears to finally be within arm’s reach. More development projects are now slated than ever, and we have a growing number of international partners looking to engage with us, to a large extent due to our president’s positive track record.

During a recent meeting at the State House, President Kenyatta spoke with development partners about the progress made in the implementation of a framework to coordinate development support in Kenya from international partners. Speaking to World Bank Vice President for Africa Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Kenya Country Director Carlos Felipe and European Union Head of Delegation Simon Mordue as well as various ambassadors, Kenyatta said, “we appreciate the support we have continued to receive from the World Bank, the European Union, the United Nations and all our development partners.”

The President expressed gratitude for the visitors’ support in the war against corruption, once again making it clear that this is one of the highest priorities of his administration. He also highlighted a few other key areas in which the support of development partners is most welcome – including Universal Health Care, housing, water and transportation infrastructure, and the development of more school infrastructure.

The latter is a key priority right now because, according to Kenyatta, Kenya is finally achieving “the 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary schools.” As numbers of pupils in secondary schools rise, so does the demand for good, safe schools and high quality teachers.

The President also recently had a meeting with IMF Resident Representative Tobias Rasmussen. Rasmussen was complimentary of Kenya’s fiscal management which has reduced external debt and grown revenue. In addition, he praised the administration’s removal of loan interest caps in order to release more funds to the private sector.

This has opened up the market to more local entrepreneurs, who previously were unable to acquire adequate funds to begin their ventures. Kenya has become known as Africa’s top start-up capital, not by luck, but through the government’s lengthy planning and a series of carefully thought out moves to nurture creative and driven young people.

That being said, real economic development cannot occur simply at the hands of the government. While our elected officials must lead growth, it cannot be done alone. It takes carefully crafted partnerships and well maintained relationships with foreign governments and international bodies to realise our own goals towards financial independence. 

Good relations with financially prosperous countries, especially those that play key leadership roles in the World Bank, European Union and IMF are essential to Kenya’s ability to reach the same status. And thus far, President Kenyatta has done a good job of currying favour with them.

This is in part due to his very public commitment to crackdown on corruption. Graft, bribery and other economic crimes are arguably the number one barrier to economic growth and one of the reasons why we fluctuate between low and medium income country status.

Corruption became more and rifer during the final decades of the 20th century. While at one point it seemed that we were well on our way to becoming a well-off country, that dream was torn down by the bribery scandals of past administrations. Once again we are on that cusp and close to reaching middle income status.

A great deal of the economic blame can be placed on corruption. Though it is not exclusively a Kenyan problem, many studies, including annual corruption indexes carried out by Transparency International, frequently cite its prevalence in Africa.

But we need not be a statistic. International partnerships with Intergovernmental Organisations (IGOs) as well having foreign governments and ambassadors that have developed a high level of trust in the current administration already and believe in us, It is time we stopped being pessimistic ourselves and begin to believe that positive changes are on their way. 

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when someone believes or predicts that something will happen to them, and then it does. As a nation, it is our simple duty to be optimistic about the current state of affairs, and put an end to the cynicism getting in the way of our self-fulfilling prophecy of prosperity and greatness. 

Other nations already believe in us. It is time we did too. 

Mr Mugolla comments on topical issues. Email: [email protected]

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