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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dangerous Presidents: What Candidates Are Missing That Will Have Deadly Consequences

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It is amazing how very few Kenyans are able to see the ticking time bomb that is in the country today. Even now when it is before our very eyes in increased violence and unexplainable crime wave levels.

One of the things that the Moi administration did was to dramatically increase the number of university graduates the country churns out every year. This is both a good thing and also a very bad thing. A good thing in that Kenya is now reaping dividends in massive foreign exchange inflows from professionals working abroad. In fact repatriated cash from Kenyans working in virtually every country of the world you can think of is the highest foreign exchange earner currently.

It is a bad thing in that a lot of these highly educated young people are jobless and frustrated. The most dangerous thing for Kenya is the fact that we have too many people who are frustrated and have nothing to lose. That is one of the reasons why the Mungiki terror gang continues to recruit in large numbers.

There is nothing more dangerous than having millions of people who go around mostly hungry and have no idea where their next meal is going to come from. These are extremely dangerous masses to have because they really have nothing to lose.

This is why the next government must pay very close attention to this problem and come up with creative solutions as a matter of urgency. As it is now, none of the presidential candidates has come up with any viable ideas of dealing with this problem.

One of the laughable things about the whole lot of them is that they believe that by attracting big industry foreign investors, Kenya will be able to deal with its' unemployment crisis. This is typical 70s thinking and it worked then. But trying to apply the same solution today is a big joke.

In those heady days of the 70s factories were pretty labor intensive and PCs and automated assembly lines had not really arrived on the scene. But times have changed. It is actually very difficult and extremely rare today to get a factory anywhere today that will use a labor force that numbers as many as 500 persons (just do your research). However for argument sakes let us assume that we can attract foreign investors in large numbers to Kenya who can set up industries that will create 1,000 jobs each. Let us go overboard in optimism and assume that we can attract 100 of these every year (virtually impossible when we are competing with countries with better infrastructure and other advantages over us). That would create 100,000 new jobs every year. Is that the kind of number that would even make a dent on the unemployment problem in Kenya?

Of course not!

Let us wake up to how huge this problem is. It can be solved by thinking outside the box and having a government that recognizes the fact that having unemployment as the top priority is not an option but the only way to go. Obviously I have my own ideas which I believe can work well and get a large percentage of the frustrated voiceless masses of Kenya working and many in the political class are reading this and hoping to "steal" some of the better ideas for their campaigns and so called visions. So this is not the time for me to talk about them.

However one thing I would like to say is that re-electing the current government would be a disaster because its' policies leans heavily on attracting foreign investors to create jobs. Just one question I want to ask. Why should any genuine foreign investor find Kenya attractive when the local investors do not and are mostly struggling?

The Safaricoms are the exceptions because Kenyans are desperately making calls around looking for answers. The Kenya Breweries are also hugely successful because there are many who would not otherwise be able to remain sane with the kind of unprecedented challenges that they face.

Let me leave you with a clue as to where the answers to this nagging problem lies. Small businesses today—including micro businesses are recognized as the number one creator of jobs in the world. Clue number two: another answer lies in a resource which we have plenty of—the vast tracts of idle and mostly fertile land that we have in the country today.

Why Is Hon Michuki bullying his youthful challenger?

The photographs Kumekucha feared to publish.

Horror of Kenyan with female sex organ sharing cell with men at Kamiti Prison

Are you a Kenyan? Do You love your country? Join in this noble campaign to change things. Do something instead of just complaining.

1 comment:

derek said...

Well though Chris, It is indeed a pity that such an observation does not arise when may of us talk too much politics without any kind of development projects.

For one, I believe that the current government has done a lot. There is indeed a vibrant economy. It is and whatever people say, there is real proof that there is so much change in the economy as compared to five years ago.

But there is one problem Chris. All, if not most of these economic activities are concentrated within Nairobi Province and further on to Mombasa, considering that the Port of Mombasa and the tourism activity there is on the upswing.

Chris, just imagine, Cambridge City and Oxford City (London gets more) in the UK each attract more than 5 million visitors every year. Meaning that apart from the universities, other attractions found there (very few), draw more visitors than Kenya/Uganda/Tanzania get in a year. This means that the shops, transport system and the hotels in these two places are kept busy every time of the year.

In Kenya’s case, the knock-on effect on the economy will be felt by all, when Kakamega Forest is well marketed to cater for the Western Kenya circuit, Kisumu city and the tourist attractions in Nyanza are well marketed abroad. In short, the more tourists visit like in another city in the world, the local economy benefits. This on the other hand creates jobs for the locals. But at 43 years, we should not be relying solely on tourism for our economic development!

Infrastructure: Not against one Daniel Moi, but this is one area that failed Moi and will continue to suppress any development. The costs, as you have rightly said increase all the time. It is natural that they go up, but this is made worse by the fact that the cost of production is pegged to the dollar that draws its stability on oil prices found out of the country.

Take a simple look at the constructions currently going on in the country. These are all World Bank loans that have to be repaid in one way or another. The government is obligated to repay the loans and the only way is to charge the taxman with the responsibility of raising the amount required and the taxman in turn transfers responsibility to the manufacturer, retailer and consumer, and so the chain-reaction continues.

Another thing is that as much as we can produce, like America which can feed itself comfortably, we import everything from pencil, to sugar (very shameful) and the agricultural input for our food production is also imported. Meaning, that for the company to survive, employment has to be kept to its lowest level.

Finally, the planners of our country's economy and infrastructural development remain the biggest letdown. Whoever decided to build the power stations in semi-deserts or along one seasonal river? And whoever planned that companies, factories, and administrative centres are to be based in Nairobi?

Until a day that Thika will rise again, and bread will be produced in Ngong, and Solai to have a brewery, or Gucha to have a cloth factory, the 500,000 jobs a year will be a mirage and prices will continue rising every year.

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