Ideas and debate
Agenda 2022: Kenya needs serious village thinking
Friday, July 23, 2021
By DENNIS KABAARA
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- Quite simply, the outgoing Jubilee administration will approve that budget; the incoming will implement it.
- However, if it’s drama you’re after, it’s in our noisy political arena that most of the news headlines focus on the battle for the presidency.
- There are more “shapeshifting” among our Kenyan politicians than any other known creature.
With the 2022 general election just over a year away, the National Treasury this week launched the transition by advancing budget preparation schedules for fiscal year 2022/23, and the Budget Statement will be read in March, at June 2022 venue. (because Parliament will be out of office).
Quite simply, the outgoing Jubilee administration will approve that budget; the incoming will implement it.
However, if it’s drama you’re after, it’s in our noisy political arena that most of the news headlines focus on the battle for the presidency.
There are more “shapeshifting” among our Kenyan politicians than any other known creature, so there is no point in worrying about political coalitions, race mates, two or three horse races, or any of that personality stuff, though be for great entertainment.
However, it is true that, as in our last three elections, the growing animosity of political rivalry and the IEBC’s palpable lack of preparation are early warning causes for concern in 2022.
In these officially illegal early campaign moments, the economy is the area where potential and putative candidates seem to agree. It is not yet the 2007 language like “The Rest of Us Against Mount Kenya,” which became the “41v1” oratory that heralded post-election violence.
We’re not yet into the ‘development vs corruption / debt’ of 2017 either, but stressing the economy after nearly a decade of mega-projects will be a tough slap in the face for the outgoing administration, BBI / Handshake notwithstanding.
From what we see, the original “con man versus dynasty” narrative on one side of our Kenyan river is conforming to a bottom-up economic model (let’s skip the middle for now).
Now the other side is talking about rural transformation to take advantage of the outgoing administration’s apparent urban regeneration, with Made-in-Kenya (isn’t this ‘Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’?) As the latest brain wave.
Beyond the surprise that the bottom-up rhetoric is from Kenya’s Officer Number Two (image, above); and the alternative of the leader of the opposition; More amusing could be that the latest unconfirmed candidate is now busy issuing written press reports in at least partial response to a confirmed candidate who has yet to put pen to paper. As always, the devil is in the details, and we still don’t know enough to evaluate one way or another.
But village thinking could help. Readers may remember that question from the 1990s about what the world would be like if it were reduced (proportionally) to a village of 100 people.
A current picture depends on the quality of the data, but a good indication for our world of eight billion people looks like this.
The world is in gender parity: 50 men and 50 women. Of the 45 men and 41 women who can read and write; 39 and 38 respectively will have at least primary education.
Seventeen men and 19 women will not have completed high school, while seven have a college education (about a decade ago, this number was 1 in 100). 60 live in Asia and 17, 13 and 10 in Africa, America and Europe.
Of these 100 people, 40 would be under the age of 25, 51 would be between 25 and 64, and nine are 65 or older.
Fifty-six would be urbanites; 87 would have potable water; 82 electricity; 74 a bank account; 68 have adequate sanitation; more than 60 a cell phone (of which 44 would be smartphones) and 47 access to the network.
One person would go hungry and 11 would be undernourished, while 22 would be overweight. Twenty-seven would be food insecure, while 48 would live on less than $ 2 a day. That’s a rough average view of our global village.
Let’s try a similar one for the Kenyan village of 100 out of 49 men and 51 women. In this town, 60 would be under the age of 25, 37 would be from 25 to 64, and four are 65 or older; 31 people are urbanites.
Excluding nine people who count children under the age of three and others who did not respond to the 2019 population census, 38 are in school or learning; 23 have completed; 15 dropped out of formal school before completing it, while another 15 never went.
On the highest educational level at the time of the census, including students and excluded those who never were (i.e. a network of 76 Kenyans out of 100 in the village), 39 peaked in primary school (19 males , 20 women), 20 at secondary level and six at secondary level / TVET (both equally divided between men and women) and three at university level (two men and one woman).
More data would lead us to socioeconomics; from drinking water, sanitation and electricity to financial inclusion, Internet access and asset ownership. It gives us the average opinion of the Kenyan village head (president).
Then there are the counties, with their various “averages” for their own chiefs (governors).
Once we have these baselines; You can formulate strategies, set goals, and finally make promises. So before we swallow every economic agenda that comes our way, shouldn’t we start with village thinking?