Vision 2030 team maintains it is on course to deliver economic goals
Kenya’s economic growth prospects remain vulnerable to election risks as August 2017 draws near. A recent World Bank report warns that election-related spending may eat into expenditure on key growth sectors, such as infrastructure, and investors may put off new investments until after next year. These scenarios are expected to delay the achievement of the country’s 2030 economic goals. Already, under the economic pillar of Vision 2030, Kenya’s average GDP growth should be 10 per cent a year until 2030– last year, however, the economy grew 5.6 per cent. This year’s growth projection is 5.9 per cent. Growth goals To get Kenya to upper middle income status in 14 years, the World Bank said, will require the Government to rekindle growth in stagnating industries, provide more jobs for the youth and lower corruption. The bank’s report, however, applauded the country’s economic performance in the last decade, which it attributed to significant growth in services, especially in the financial and ICT sectors. Further, according to John Kariuki, the economic pillar’s acting director, some of the country’s goals will be achieved before 2030. In an interview with Business Beat, he said the agricultural, transport and financial sectors have recorded tremendous growth, which has positively impacted other sectors. The economic pillar also includes tourism, ICT, manufacturing, retail and wholesale, and oil sectors, which combined are projected to deliver 57 per cent of GDP growth under the 2030 blueprint. “Many people only measure our accomplishments by what they can see. However, there are many other deliverables that may not be so obvious, such as legislation and harmonisation of laws governing the economic pillar,” Dr Kariuki said, adding that the development plan has measurable values that are reviewed every five years. In agriculture, for instance, Kariuki said his team has managed to reduce the laws that regulate the sector from 130 to only five. And in the coming planting season, he said, farmers will benefit from using fertiliser made locally, thanks to the Toyota Tsusho fertiliser plant in Uasin Gishu. This, the director said, would save the country close to Sh3 billion in its import bill – money that can be channeled to other income-generating projects. Currently, Kenya imports about 600,000 tonnes of fertiliser annually, equivalent to the country’s entire domestic demand.
“The factory will not only save the country money, but it will also produce soil-specific fertiliser. This means that different regions in Kenya will receive fertiliser that is adapted to the local soil, unlike the imported one that was applied universally, hence the dismal results in certain areas, besides acidifying the soil,” said Kariuki.
Another of Vision 2030’s flagship projects in the agricultural sector is the Galana Kulalu irrigation project, which targets at least a million acres under irrigation in three planting seasons annually. The project first irrigates 2,500 acres, before gradually increasing this to 10,000 acres. The 10,000 acres are projected to generate Sh1 billion in revenue a season – against a production cost of Sh400 million. “We want to invite the private sector to do the next 20,000 acres to motivate them to create employment for our people. An acre is able to create three to eight direct jobs. The project is being implemented in phases until the entire one million acres are covered,” said Kariuki. More employment opportunities under Vision 2030 are expected to come from creating economic zones. The Government is establishing a livestock disease-free zone (DFZ) in Bachuma, Taita Taveta County, where animals will be quarantined for screening and treatment to check the spread of diseases. The project will occupy 15,000 acres, and include animal sheds, road works, laboratories, boreholes and quarantine fencing. The DFZ is being created under the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement for the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), where member countries agreed to create pest-or disease-free areas or areas of low pest or disease prevalence. These zones allow countries to trade in animals and animal products in international markets. Kariuki said the DFZ would see Kenya export not only live animals, but also fully packaged beef to the rest of the continent. Some populous African countries, such as Nigeria, import most of their meat from European countries. “We can take advantage of such ready markets on the continent before venturing outwards,” he said, adding that the country is moving with speed to get certified as a disease-free zone, and is already free of tsetse flies.
According to the World Bank report, Kenya has the potential to be one of Africa’s great success stories given its “growing and youthful population, a dynamic private sector, a new constitution, and its pivotal role in East Africa.”