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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Kumekucha's Presidential Campaign 2007: We Need One Priority, We Need Lots of Creativity

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.


Vee said...

Yesterday Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi was violently car-jacked. I don't feel sorry for him in any way...

The only thing I have to say is had Mr. Kituyi's government given those 500,000 jobs that they promised those two "menacing young men" would have had other means to make money.

Until you, Mr. Kituyi and your government takes steps to keep their false promises on job creation...
then Sir, you, me and the rest of Kenya will never rest easy from crime, rape, robbery, poverty, illness, ignorance.

I hope this hopeful presidential candidate "means what he says" and "says what he means"

Anonymous said...

i agree with you that employment policy neeeds to be @ the front and center of policy - though disagree with 2 of your prescriptions. 1. tax incentives to maintain employees (tha would encourage inefficeincy aand a whole generation would later pay for that). 2 Focus on foreign jobs that would result in the mexican conundrum where the govts focus instead of improving local conditions focusses is to export more labor.

i would propose that in order to create employment you need to create markets and consumption and create a welfare system based on work (not employment - there is alot of work that needs to be done from environmental cleanup,public works,malaria abetment)with time this will raise agregate demand hence,production and employment.

one statistci that you should note is that 80% yes 80% ( kenyan tax revenue is generated in nairobi. if
even 80% of that was spent in nairobi i can guarntee you that extreme poverty would be history in
kenya within 5 years and slums would be history -

here is how, 1. the living standards of nairobian s would be higher, and increase consumption which would create a larger market for rural products. needless to say
slums and poor roads will be history and the construction business alone would create more jobs not to mention the service industry.

so the correct solution to ur idea lays in the market, the market know how to allocate capital and resources better than anyone and as it is the market data syas invest in nairobi and all else will follow
create markets and all else will follow. (but i have a feeling that will not win you an election )

chris said...

Vee, I was going to write EXACTLY what you have written. So that you believe me, I have posted you comments on page 1 of the main kumekucha blog.

I can't help believing that this is exactly the same feeling so many Kenyans have concerning this event.

chris said...

Mr anonymous (I wish we knew your first name at the very least),

Thank you for your wonderful post. You are very convincing and I sincerely enjoyed reading your very well thought out comment. This is more than a breath of fresh air. We are discussion ideas here that have never seen the inside of parliament and will probably never do so unless we succeed in getting a new generation of younger "more aware" leaders in there.

Your idea about creating a welfare state of sorts based on "work" rather than employement is pure genius. The only way to jump start job creation is for the new government to spend money.

Those who scoff at the word "welfare" should bare in mind that, that is exactly how the Americans got out of the great depression. The unemployment we have in Kenya today is a million times worse than what was the great depression.

Besides spending money in this way beats hair-brained schemes the current government has been coming up with like putting up shs 100 million structures in State House and building a residence for the VP.

However I ask you to look again at the two issues you do not agree with, namely tax incentives for job creation and exporting our idle Kenyan labour. I still feel that the issue here will rest heavily on the details of the policy or "small print" and the actual implementation, so to speak. If details can be taken care of bearing in mind that we do not want to create inefficiency, trust me, private enterprise will find ways to use at the very least most of the extra labor productively. And besides I have a hunch that this is a more effective and efficient way of subsidizing the economy.

On the issue of exporting jobs, whether you and I like it or not, it is already happening. What I will seek to do will be simply to remove the barriers and speed up job creation abroad even as we work on our local issues. Rememember that the experience we create for our work force abroad will help us a great deal later (work permits cannot be renewed forever in many parts of the world now).

One thing I am delighted about is how quickly you have grasped the fact that focusing on job creation will have such a huge positive impact on so many other areas in the economy.

Again your Nairobi stats are amazing. They "hit" me very hard on the head and I'm still thinking about what you have said. Any chance you'd accept a job as Finance Minister?

Anyway, I wish other readers would contribute further to this debate on the key issue we need to address to turn around Kenya.

Anonymous said...

hey chris, again yea i think employment is the most important policy that not just kenyans but african governments need to focus on
for the sake of peace and democracy. an ememployed population is less likely to be involved in genocide and war and less likely to be manipulated by politicians.

another issue that drives kenyan nuts is land, though i dont believe in land distribution i think we hav eto undertsand land and the reason land is central. i think if you really analyze it land is our welfare system our retirement fund so to speak. what we need is to decouple our selves from land - im actually for land consolidation and large scale agriculture actually if you understand the world economy you will be very fearfull of out ararian economy - brasil is about to do to agriculture what china did
to manufacturing.

i propose that we need to encourage large scale agriculture by taxing all land say at 2% of its value this will discourage idle land use and use that money to build a welfare system so that whoever dlooses there land doe not have to worry about making aleaving, also large scale agric will result in agro processing industries (jobs) and reduce land conflicts (likia etc). and also limit environmental damage.

on the issue of exporting labor, i think the benefits will only last for one generatioon history has shown that mnost of those who migrae never return, migration is a terrible thing i am an immigrant and granted the choice i would have never left kenya - so yes i just think thats not something that needs to be a govt policy though o f course freedom of movt is essential.

BTW: how come the official govt statistics do not include remittances and miraa exports the 2 largest forex earners in kenya

also regarding remittances its so hard to invest money in kenya when you are outside. for example my family does not need handouts as often as some others i would like to invest money in kenya but when i look at the cos and the process of investing its crazy in kenya you literally have to go there. i.e take time form work fly probaly cost you $5000 justs o yo an invest something like $10,000 i know peopl euse relaives but if you breakdown the numbers really makes you think
if its so hard for akneyan what about a non kenyan

chris said...

Bwana anonymous,

We seem to be reading from a very similar scripts.

Again land will be one of the major assets I will seek to use to create employment. There are various ways and your idea about a 2% tax is just one of them, although I worry about collection and enforcemenbt of such legislation (i.e. it will not be very easy).

What I had in mind was the vast government land that is idle in many parts of the country. If we can find a way of attracting agro-processing industries and maybe establishing one or two huge factories as a joint venture between government and local investors, then there is potential to create a colossal number of jobs (not in the factory but out on the farms where even outgrowers can be used if demand rises quickly. The trick here is in either finding the demand for a certain processed agricultural product or creating it (I have a lot of marketing experience and I can tell you that this is very possible.)

There is no sector that will create new jobs as quickly as agriculture.

I would appreciate some more information about the Brazil success story, any idea where I can get good info on that?

Moving on to another issue you raised, Bana Anonymous, I have no option but to conclude that there must be a sinister motive behind the government not talking about miraa exports and remittances and yet they are major forex earners.

Unfortunately I still do not agree with you about getting jobs abroad for Kenyans. I think if this is managed well, it can work and these guys can return home later. The problem is that currently there is nothing to return to, even you would return if there was something to return to, would you not?

One of the other ideas I have for creating jobs is to make Kenya the easiest country for foreign investors to invest in. This can be done by establishing a one stop investment centre that radically elminates bureacracy where everything can even be done online on a secure site.

There are some indications that Kenya's construction industry is currently being bankrolled to a large extent by Kenyans living abroad investing back home. If things can be made easier for them (even relatives can con you sometimes, you know?) then there are huge resources there and plenty of jobs in construction for our people.

The other issue is that a working population needs to be kept healthy. I think the current government's failed new health scheme was too expensive. If managed properly a health scheme for all, where contributions are as low as Kshs 100 monthly, can work, even if it will require some funding from government at the beginning. I am very sure about this. But for it to succeed the powerful and growing HMO community needs to be watched very carefully. They had a hand in defeating the last effort in this direction. A scheme for the masses would affect their business minimally and anyway, they can re-focus their attention further upmarket. I think this will be very viable when we get the economy moving and people working.

land of peace said...

Have been following the debet.Hope kenyans have time to think like this?most of us engage in" foolish"
politic that have and will never help this land.
you have my vote..
I dont want to put up with the same but..are this note the same people who promised us haven and later left the president to work alone??? And now there are asking us to vote for them.are they after power or serving the nation! said...

The political theatrics and conmanship of one Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka’s don’t seem to be a new thing as far as any Mkamba in leadership is concerned. History has indicated that Kenya will be totally doomed to have a Mkamba for a president.
Kalonzo’s political games should be carefully re-read through his current apparent silence on a number of pertinent issues in this country and the continuous hornbill like noise of his opportunistic political sidekicks one mutual Kilonzo.
Kenya history has proved that all people from Kambaland have miserably failed Kenyans, involved or done fishy things at the detriment of the Kenyan people, Kalonzo Musyoka being the latest in this list of evil positioning having personally caused post election violence.
In all leadership position under any Kamba man, Kenya has either suffered bad omen or the institution under such a person failed miserably, and thus Kalonzo may be no exception to this evil or bad omen as you may prefer to call it.
Ukambani must be a cursed land with a cursed people and entrusting anyone from any national responsibility brings the Ukambani curse to the whole country, a region that has relied on relief food(molio)since time immemorial. A region that has experienced drought since anytime one can imagine of despite having two of Kenya’s biggest rivers traversing the region. this is the curse that has become nationalized since Kalonzo became vice president; the top most political position ever occupied by a Mkamba in Kenya’s political history.. said...

in endorsement of impunity, sycophancy total inefficiency and above all the heritage of misfortune.

Its understood that it was during the reign of Major General Joseph Musyimi Lele Ndolo as the chief of the general staff that there was an attempted coup for the first time in Kenyan history in 1971 and 1982 when the threat of military takeover
threatened first President Kenyatta and then his successor, President Moi. it was Ndolo’s duty to keep the country secure only for him to fail to an extend of having a coup that failed but led to loss of lives of many Kenyans. This is the curse Kalonzo carries. The curse of coupe et d at.
It was during the same time that another Mkamba General JacksonMulinge was the senior most man in the army when Kenya had the coup attempt.
The presidential abuse of constitutional power to favour an individual against true democracy was done to a mkamba;Paul Ngei when the then president Jommo Kenyatta ‘pardoned’ Ngei after being disqualified due to electoral misconduct in 1975.
The coup et d tat happened during the reign of Kitili Mwendwa another Mkamba as the chief justice of this country. This is neither a coincidence nor an accident that Kenyans only suffer calamities when Kamba are in charge. It has a lot to do with these individuals.
In 2003,most Kenyans remember the MP Gideon Mutiso who drowned immediately he was elected.
Mr.Kibaki suffered a near fatal accident when he visited Ukambani in Kalonzo’s constituency specifically at a time when he was just about to win presidency in 2002.its doubtless that Kalonzo’s curse of misfortune was at work.
It must be remembered that it was during the reign of another Mkamba Mathews Guy Muli that as the attorney general that Kenya suffered the highest rate of mutilation of its constitution and serious abuse of human rights.
It was a Mkamba (Mr.Kivuvani) who was in charge of national intelligence when serious political assassinations were carried out in independent Kenya. I almost fell of the chair reading a newspaper report about Mr. Kivuvani the former Chief of Intelligence who was in charge when Dr. Ouko was slaughtered.Mr. Kivuvani was declared a hostile witness at the Ouko Inquiry because he was evasive and basically rude and uncooperative. This is the height of arrogance. As Chief of Intelligence, Mr. Kivuvani was second only to Moi on matters of state security. This is the man under whose watch a cabinet minister was brutally killed under and a very obvious cover up put in place. This man should be coming to the Inquiry with maximum humility telling them everything he knows, even if it means doing it in camera. And what does he do? He goes there and thumps his nose at them letting them know they are toothless dogs wasting their time and our money. Good for him.
Kenyans must remember that Dr.Robert Ouko (the then minister for foreign affairs)’s assassination occurred in February 1990 when another Mkamba Philip Kilonzo headed the police force as a commissioner. Imagining all this, it’s very dangerous for Kalonzo Musyoka to even imagine that he can lead this country. Kalonzo’s attempt alone to presidency in 2007 cost Kenyans over 1500 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands through violence.
It was under the watch of one Mkamba called Professor Musuva at the Kenya railways when the institution was totally run down. That can’t be explained other than the manifestation of the Ukambani curse that Kalonzo is now trying to spread to other parts of the country in the name of ‘kupitia katikati’.It HAS so proved that any Mkamba in a senior position in the country is a recipe for a national disaster in this country.
I don’t know if Kenyans remember some fellow by the name Ezekiel Mutua who surprised many people when he was caught red handed when he was the secretary general said...

Its too a known fact that one of Kalonzo’s chief sycophants Mutula Kilonzo who has been given the ministry of justice though undeserved him being a beneficiary and perpetrator of impunity is also busy advancing his master Kalonzo Musyoka’s interest by now claiming THAT he wants people to be taken to the Hague so long as Kalonzo is not on the list. It’s a known fact that its Mutula and Kalonzo who helped Waki get to chair the commission so that they are not named in the list of those who caused post election violence, and that the report favors the duo. Its known that the earliest legal confusion that was brought at the KICC during vote counting was in form of one Mutula Kilonzo another Mkamba who seemed to have created the whole blue print of the election fiasco. Now through Kalonzo’s tricks Mutula is justice minister with a duty to ensure that impunity is protected especially that that was committed during the over 20 years tenure of Kalonzo Musyoka as a minister in Moi government.
Kambas represent all that goes wrong in this country, a curse from their homeground; laziness, suffering, hunger, opportunism, poverty, drought, inefficiecy, sycophancy and impunity. That is why Kenya must critically weigh the consequences of having a Mkamba at the helm of power; the presidency, the road that Kalonzo imagines he will drive Kenya to its doomsday.
If you are critical you will find that the number that epitomizes Ukambani evil is manifested in many other individuals apart from the listed ones.
Kenyans have eyes and ears to see and the last mistake that can ever happen is imagining a Mkamba being president especially in the name of Kalonzo Musyoka who seems to be a messenger of doom to the whole nation. Wise Kenyans will shun him for they know he brings more and more calamity to our nation

Anonymous said...

this blog is entirely victimizing the Akamba people. Shame on all of you so called wazalendos who choose to the negativity in everything. Fact, if there wasn't the first cop of 1971, you would not be here today read your history..

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