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Daily Nation : February 14th 2014
DAILY NATION Friday February 14, 2014 Opinion 13 ECONOMY | Patrick Mbataru Kenya’s development model is not doing well because it ignores human growth ideas of government: One that helps the rich to become more prosperous, believing their prosperity will leak down to those below and the second one that advocates legislation to make the masses prosperous with the assumption that their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it. In the past decade, Kenya has prioritised economic infrastructural expansion as a strategy of development. The idea is that some of the benefits of a new road will “trickle down” to the poor. Experts are increasingly questioning this kind of “trickle-down” development. Has Thika Road improved the well-being of the poor in the Mathare slums or has it created more incentives for the middle class and the rich to expand their consumption choices? Will the standard gauge railway reduce the economic exclusion of those at the bottom of the ladder? We see more expensive SUVs thundering down the superhighway and more and bigger malls coming up. But the periodic hunger is back in Turkana. I On what should we use a trillion shillings on, an irrigation scheme to solve food n 1896, US politician William Jennings Bryan differentiated between two A section of the Thika superhighway. insecurity once and for all or the railway? Some reports say poverty is increasing. Many live in absolute poverty. Many more are underemployed and their income depends on the whims of local institutions. But we are planning a double-deck highway across Nairobi. Economic growth is not sufficient to uplift the well-being of the poor. There is also the social infrastructure. Critics of our model of development say it prioritises the needs of the middle class and the rich. Micro-economies, they point out, are better impacted through direct interventions on the price of oil, farm inputs, electricity and machines, easy credit, and infrastructure tailored to link agribusiness chains in small and medium-size towns. To understand the problem of prioritising “flagship” infrastructural expansion, it is crucial to differentiate between two types of government investments. Firstly, there are investments meant for the efficient operation and expansion of existing businesses. The logic is that this would spur economic growth by increasing productivity, therefore creating more jobs. This is what Kenya has engaged in. However, in a dysfunctional capitalist economy like ours, businesses hardly share increased profits with customers. We end up having economic growth without development. People cannot eat GDP. Secondly, there are in- vestments that expand the economy directly by creating more opportunities for the economically marginalised. Poverty interventions like small irrigation schemes, fish ponds, and rabbit rearing are meant to directly open up opportunities for vulnerable groups like youths. Linking producers to market systems would help in addressing rural poverty. Take Turkana and Marsabit counties, for example. Forget the oil and the water reservoirs. Both counties are home to about 40 per cent of Kenya’s livestock — goats, camels, and cows — assets worth billions of shillings. Yet these are among the poorest counties in Kenya. Why then would a government adopt the trickle-down strategy? A major reason is that national investment decisions are often not entirely altruistic. Political, corporate, or individual interests are the key factors. Businesses and individuals often have enough clout in government to influence decisions on what infrastructure will go where. This is familiar stuff in Kenya. Decisions are based on opportunities to extract rent. Predatory states see propoor strategies as problematic because they require long-term follow-up and a lot of stakeholder involvement to ensure their sustainability. However, in rent seeking, clientilist systems like ours, quick fixes are the norm. That is why there is recurrent hunger in Turkana. Economic growth is a myth if it is not related to the human and physical development of the citizens. We only talk about economic development. There is the other side, the human aspect of that development. Hopefully these problems will be addressed through devolution. Or will they? Dr Mbataru teaches agribusiness at Kenyatta University. (email@example.com) A Kenya Airways Boeing 777-300ER at JKIA. BRAVO, ANTHONY. For really exemplary service, WHY THIS VIOLENCE? | Fredrick Ogenga to mark that relationship, they decided to erect the monument that has now acquired such notoriety to commemorate 100 years of their presence. Kisumu County is governed by the rule Demolition a symptom of hidden tension T he Sikh community in Kisumu has been living with the “natives” of the town relatively peacefully and of law, therefore there is no way the monument could have been erected without the necessary permits from the relevant authorities. Owing to its size and strategic location, it is inconceivable that the governor, his deputy, and the entire county assembly were not aware of its existence. Its creation was sanctioned by law and its demolition should also be governed by the same law. It is unfortunate that the residents of the lakeside town decided to take the law into their hands and violently brought down the monument. Only the hooligans who brought it down can explain the reasons for their actions. For the ordinary resident of Kisumu town, the monument was not easy to ignore as failing to acknowledge it would be akin to ignoring the economic realities of the town that are the real elephant in the room. Some of the aggrieved residents say the fact that the monument is conspicuous is a painful reminder of their economic hardships which they blame on “Indian capitalism” in the county. Its creation was sanctioned by law and its demolition should also be governed by the same law. It is unfortunate that the residents of the lakeside town decided to take the law into their hands and violently brought down the newly erected monument.” They said that the first reason for their objection to the monument was that they were not consulted before the approvals for its construction were issued. What if they were? Would it have made any difference? Your guess is as good as mine, but chances are that, judging from the hostility that the residents exhibited as they demolished the monument, their opposition would not have been any less. So, who sanctioned the project? Were the views of the residents considered? Would it have made any difference if the Sikh community had spent the money on other projects to benefit the entire town? Kisumu’s rejection of the Sikh monu- ment rubbishes the widely held view that devolution allows counties to authorise any form of structures without consulting the residents. It is also a reminder that the county government should express the collective desires of all sections of the citizens. The Sikh community in Kisumu should do better. It has been present in Kisumu for a century but there is not much to show for this. The infrastructure in Kisumu is laughable. There is a huge planning problem of the town, security is wanting, there is poor waste management, and the transport system is chaotic. Since Kisumu has provided a relatively safe landing for the Sikh community for over 100 years, is it not only fair that they give back to the town? The community should be at the forefront of public-private partnership investments in Kisumu to help reform the town so that it attains the standards commensurate with city status. This would help attract more investors, create more jobs, and help address the issue of idleness, unemployment, crime and guarantee long-term security. Dr Ogenga teaches at the School of Information Communication and Media Studies, Rongo University College. (ogengafredrick @gmail.com) Harun K. Patel takes off his hat to Kenya Airways cabin crew member Anthony Kuria. Says Patel: “I recently travelled from Bombay to the JKIA on KQ203 and next to me was an elderly woman who was very ill as she was coming home after a major spine injury. Kuria assisted the woman, taking her to the toilet five times. He was helpful and mindful of her welfare and also of other passengers. Now, that is the pride of KQ. Keep up the great work, Anthony!” His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. LET THE WORK BEGIN. For the past 10 years, the people of Ting’ang’a in Kiambu County have had to put up with the agony of using their terribly dilapidated road, moans Karanja Gachichio. They were, therefore, quite thrilled to hear from Deputy President William Ruto during a visit on February 6, that the road would be recarpeted within the next three months. “In the spirit of the motto of his URP, Kusema na Kutenda, we look forward to seeing the work begin soon.” His contact is email@example.com. REPAIR THIS ROAD. Last year, the road under the Nyali Bridge on the North Coast of Mombasa, Jean and Brian Elms recall, was given a comprehensive facelift using Cabro bricks at the bottom to make it even more solid. But early this year, enormous drainage pipes had to be installed to stop flooding in the Bombolulu area and, unfortunately, the road had to be dug up. However, no repairs have been done since, “leaving a muddy mess, which is not good for a road that has so much traffic.” For the details, they can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a complete day, won’t you! E-mail: email@example.com or write to Watchman, POB 49010, Nairobi 00100. Fax 2213946. THE CUTTING EDGE BY THE WATCHMAN INTOLERANCE. The demolition of a Sikh monu- ment in Kisumu shows just how ignorant, insensitive and intolerant some Kenyans have become of one another’s religion and culture, remarks Alex Irungu. But he finds it ironical that the lakeside people have desecrated a religious monument “and yet they revere Omieri, the serpent and practise witchcraft, which is nothing but idol worship.” He hopes the culprits and their inciters will be dragged to court to deter similar actions. His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. BILL DUE DATE. Nakuru resident Dave Ranger says his past two months’ bills for his December consumption were due on January 15 and 17. He was, therefore, surprised to note that the bills for February came due on the fourth and fifth days. “It would be nice to know why the disparities in the due date. Can the power utility explain to Dave why the shortened usage time period and “why not have fixed due dates month after month like other companies.” He expects a response through his email: email@example.com. OBEY THE LAW. Though protecting the rights of citizens abroad is part of the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this cannot apply where people get involved in “irresponsible behaviour and are arrested”, says press official Edwin Limo. Responding to a claim that the ministry “does not care much about Kenyans overseas”, Limo explains that Saudi Arabia has strong rules against the mingling of sexes, prostitution, and liquor consumption. “Therefore, the mission in Riyadh can only assist where it is possible.” The ministry’s contact is firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 13th 2014
February 15th 2014