There are numer­ous eco­nom­ic chal­lenges that Kenya’s new­ly elect­ed lead­ers will need to tack­le deci­sive­ly from August 10th four of which I enu­mer­ate here below.

First­ly, we need to strength­en local man­u­fac­tur­ing. The Kenya Shilling appears to be on the ropes. Against this back­drop of a weak­en­ing shilling, the US dol­lar for vast rea­sons seems to be in short sup­ply. Some of the rea­sons may include demand for for­eign cur­ren­cy to repay Nation­al debt and the obvi­ous scram­ble by man­u­fac­tur­ers to pur­chase raw mate­ri­als from over­seas. This has prompt­ed the Kenya Asso­ci­a­tion of Man­u­fac­tur­ers to raise con­cerns that its mem­bers are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to access dol­lars at the offi­cial rates. Con­se­quent­ly, pro­duc­tion costs in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor are sky­rock­et­ing. The Country’s next lead­ers there­fore must take firm steps towards low­er­ing these pro­duc­tion costs by tar­get­ing export mar­ket for Kenyan prod­ucts as one of the solutions.

Sec­ond­ly, we need to revamp the tex­tile indus­try by inten­tion­al­ly devel­op­ing the entire val­ue chain. Due to the exis­tence of African Growth and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Act (AGOA) and its promis­ing strat­e­gy, just imag­ine the eco­nom­ic empow­er­ment that would come with the req­ui­site pro­duc­tion of cot­ton locally.

A great com­pa­ny like Unit­ed Aryan which cur­rent­ly employs about 12,000 Kenyans would eas­i­ly quadru­ple in their busi­ness and employ­ment capac­i­ty. The lead­ers we elect must fit the bill to real­ize our grand tex­tile dream.

Third­ly, we address our lin­ger­ing leather chal­lenge. Kenya has the third-biggest live­stock resource in Africa. Despite this, Kenya’s con­tri­bu­tion to Africa’s leather pro­duc­tion is a pal­try 3.5 %. Accord­ing to the Kenya Leather Devel­op­ment Coun­cil, Kenyans buy up to 24 mil­lion pairs of shoes every year. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the bulk of this mon­ey goes out­side Kenya as we are a net

Egypt is one of the lead­ing pro­duc­ers of leather prod­ucts in Africa and the Mid­dle East. Egypt’s ascen­sion to the leather industry’s pin­na­cle did not just hap­pen by acci­dent. Egypt con­struct­ed the Rob­bi­ki Leather City that hosts mul­ti­ple tan­ner­ies. The City has pro­vid­ed 25,000 direct and indi­rect jobs. In this regard, Kenya must fast track full com­ple­tion and sub­se­quent total uti­liza­tion of the indus­tri­al leather park in Machakos.

It is extreme­ly unfor­tu­nate that this park has tak­en years to com­plete. We must elect lead­ers who will give Egypt and our neigh­bor Ethiopia a gra­cious run for their mon­ey when it comes to pro­duc­ing leather products.

Fourth­ly, we need to revis­it micro­fi­nanc­ing in this coun­try. Is micro­fi­nance real­ly help­ing those who need financ­ing most or does it cre­ate for them more finan­cial prob­lems down the road? The expe­ri­ence of motor­cy­cle buy­ers leaves more ques­tions than answers.

Six out of ten of all new motor­cy­cle buy­ers are women. As Chair­per­son of Motor­cy­cle Assem­blers Asso­ci­a­tion (MAAK), I have wit­nessed this phe­nom­e­non as moth­ers flock our  premis­es to pur­chase motor­cy­cles for their sons or to do a side busi­ness. Almost 65% of these pur­chas­es are financed through micro­fi­nance arrange­ments whose cumu­la­tive inter­est rates is about 60 % Per Year. Indeed, the micro­fi­nance sec­tor in this coun­try is sink­ing into preda­to­ry ter­ri­to­ry. About 35 % of the youth in Boda Boda sec­tor are inevitably los­ing their assets due to the high inter­est charged.

It is incum­bent on our next lead­ers to dis­abuse Kenyans who are bleed­ing in the hands of most micro­fi­nance insti­tu­tions. Just as buy­ers scru­ti­nize prod­ucts before pur­chas­ing them, vot­ers must care­ful­ly exam­ine the lead­ers seek­ing their votes. Do they have what it takes to tack­le chal­lenges like the ones I have list­ed here?

Lead­er­ship is not a crown to be worn but a pow­er­ful tool for solv­ing prob­lems. Think green, act green!


About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors


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