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 143 out of 189 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index.
- Adults earning less than Sh3,252 in rural areas and Sh5,995 monthly in urban areas stand at 15.3 million.
- More than half (53 per cent) of Kenyans are multi-dimensionally poor, which means that they are deprived of at least three of these: physical development, nutrition, health, education, child protection, information, water, sanitation and housing.
- 8,300 people own more wealth than the bottom 44 million people (Extreme Inequality).
- Average years of schooling in Kenya is 8.06 years.
- 41% of Kenyans lack access to reliable source of clean water.
- 10% of Kenyans practice open defecation, and only 30% of Kenyans have access to improved sanitation.
- 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.
- Annually, 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.
- 38.9% of Kenya’s youth eligible for work have no jobs in a business environment.
- 36.1 percent of Kenyans live below the international poverty line.
- Of all the employed Kenyans, 60% earn about 300 shillings a day.
- 49 percent of all workers in the formal sector earn less than KShs 30,000 per month.
- Only 5% of Kenyans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.
- Kenya ranked 124 out of 180 in the 2020 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 25th on the 2021 Failed State Index. (Somalia was ranked 2, South Sudan 3).
- 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.