Kumekucha's Presidential Campaign 2007
"If an economy is moving, tax it, if it keeps on moving regulate it, if it stalls subsidize it."
- Former US President Ronald Reagan-
No management, let alone government, can be successful without focusing on one key priority issue at a time. The problem we have in Kenya is that we accept to be cheated by presidential candidates who paint a rosy picture of many things that they are going to do. No candidate stands for anything let alone a certain key priority they want to address. And where they pretend to, they have no idea of how they are going to go about it.
And our governments are worse when they come into power because it soon becomes very clear that the leaders had no other agenda but to get power for power's sake.
This presidential campaign will focus on one key priority. Job creation. Naturally this has a lot to do with the economy. But I intend to focus on job creation in every single thing that the government does and in economic policies and even daily decision-making.
It starts with very little things. For example, today it is very difficult for an ordinary Kenyan who wants to seek employment abroad to get a passport. Yet criminals obtain them in a very short time, through corruption or by getting a forged one. So who are all the security measures in obtaining a passport targeted against? It is the common man who wants to improve his lot.
The government should make it very easy for any Kenyan to obtain a passport. Missions abroad will start doing some useful work and help channel information about jobs open to the international market. There will be an aggressive effort by everybody to get as many Kenyans as possible working.
At home we will promote small business like never before. It is a known fact that worldwide job creation these days happens in small and micro enterprises and not large factories like the Kenya Meat Commission which has recently been revived. And neither does it happen with massive foreign investments like was the case in the 70s. Both are good things to happen, but the really significant job creation will happen with small enterprises. The strategy I have in mind will involve both funding and training on a massive scale in partnership with banks and non-governmental organizations already working on the ground. It will also be necessary to create new government organizations specifically charged with promoting small enterprise.
Government procurement of items like stationary does not need to be left to large companies when it can be given to dozens of small businesses. In the past we have been giving lip service to the promotion of small business and then turning round to promote and sustain big business in everything we do. Big business can take care of itself, and anyway they are downsizing and rapidly increasing unemployment.
We need to get very creative here and certain tax waivers can be granted to companies that maintain large work forces. In fact tax policy can be designed to favor larger work forces.
We need more creative solutions to the so-called hawker and kiosk menace. These would appear to be a menace in the thinking of the 70s. Actually I intend to explore ways to use these two great Kenyan enterprises to create massive job opportunities. There is little point in urging the nation to work when there are no jobs and no opportunities. I intend to create the opportunities and the jobs and I know most Kenyans will gladly work. They hardly need to be reminded to work.
All in all I will strive to find creative ways to create employment for Kenyans both at home and abroad.
Somebody may complain that we are promoting the continued brain drain from our country with professionals being attracted to work in other countries. My question is why do we want to keep people in the country when we do not have the opportunities for them yet? Kenya has a massive, highly qualified work force that is second to none in Africa. Travel across the continent and you will see what I am talking about. We have PS's and other senior government bureaucrats working in countries like Namibia and Botswana, and we have Kenyan entrepreneurs involved in all sorts of businesses spread right across the continent from South Africa to North Africa, from Cape to Cairo. More will be found in many countries in the West and elsewhere. These Kenyans are the main reason why the Kenyan shilling stubbornly remains so strong today against major foreign currencies. While the government slept, foreign inflows from nationals living and working abroad has become one of the major foreign exchange earners in the country. But the problem is that the people in power stuck in the thinking (and time-warp) of the 70s are confused. In their book, this sort of thing has never been considered to be a serious foreign exchange earner and therefore they have even been reluctant to find ways of keeping accurate figures.
A new government should work to improve and rapidly increase opportunities for Kenyans to work abroad because apart from anything else, it gives them skill and experience that they can then bring back home in future when we rise to be the super power we really are.
Let me end by saying that if we can succeed in creating jobs, we will have been able to deal with so many other serious problems facing our nation today. A good example is crime. How can you expect crime not to be on the rise in a nation where unemployment stands at over 40% and growing?
A constant healthy flow of foreign currency into the county from nationals working abroad and from productive Kenyans within the country means that the government can be able to comfortably finance itself without seeking foreign aid.
We need to change direction and focus from an economy that benefits a few privileged Kenyans to one that has an impact on the greatest number of Kenyans possible. A good place to start is to escape from the thinking of the past.
This presidential candidate only has one agenda, job creation.