Kenya is the poster child for economic growth in Eastern Africa. A democratic nation compared to Uganda where Museveni has ruled since the days of John the Baptist. A relatively peaceful nation compared to Somalia and South Sudan. A highly skilled workforce, better than Tanzania. An economy that is bigger than Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi combined.
We boast of having a relatively stable country when part of our neighbors is falling apart. Kenyans tweet about mega projects that are taking place. We consider ourselves a tech savvy nation where many international companies are setting camp.
Despite all that, something does not seem right. People are struggling to make ends meet. Young people are becoming poorer than their parents were. Inequality is on the rise and corruption has made it hard for everyone to survive, except the thieves. A look at some of the statistics below show that we are in a bad situation.
- In terms of humans and their socio-economic capabilities, Kenya is ranked 147 out of 189 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index.
- 40% of Kenyans live on less than 200 shillings a day.
- The poorest 40% of Kenyans earns 16.5% of the income.
- Average years of schooling are 6.6 years.
- 40% of Kenyans lack access to reliable source of clean water.
- 30% of Kenyans lack access to proper toilets.
- Between 1 and 1.1 million Kenyans each year are pushed into poverty because of medical expenses.
- 26% of children in Kenya under the age of 5 are malnourished/underweight.
- Between 3,000 – 13,000 Kenyans lose their lives in road accidents in Kenya. (Government claims 3,000, other institutions estimate 13,000). A lot of these deaths are preventable.
- 40% of all Kenyans aged 15 years and older are unemployed
- Of all the employed Kenyans, 60% earn about 300 shillings a day.
- Only 5% of Kenyans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.
- Kenya ranked 137 out of 180 in the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index.
- According to the 2017 Human Rights Report by Amnesty International, Kenya ranked top in Africa for extrajudicial killings by the police.
- Kenya was ranked 17th on the Failed State Index by the Fund for Peace in 2013, sandwiched between Nigeria and Niger. (Somalia was ranked 1, South Sudan 4).
- Banditry: 12 out of 47 counties in Kenya are nominally out of the control of Kenya’s police/security forces.
What is the point of boasting about being a middle-income country when the future of the young people is not guaranteed? Where is the hope for the youth, who form 75% of the population? Why are doctors jobless, but hospitals lack doctors? Why are engineers jobless when we are importing some from China? University degrees popular yet jobs are not. Why is betting becoming a national economic activity? Why are people working hard, paying taxes, then missing the government services? Drought and famine is a consistent theme.
Unfortunately, a political solution is not near, for at the moment, Kenyans are about to vote for the same people who have been a problem for the last many years. We will continue to boast about growth in GDP as more loans come and the books are cooked, but no one eats GDP.
Wake up, Kenyans.