How The Simple Act of Marking Your Age Can Turn Kenya into a Green Paradise

Gabon has dom­i­nat­ed news late­ly due to the coup that top­pled for­mer Pres­i­dent Ali Bon­go. And for me, Gabon should also be in the news for a much bet­ter, nay green­er rea­son – its 88 per­cent for­est cov­er! This makes Gabon one of the most forest­ed coun­tries in the world and proves that Kenya too can real­ize a forty per­cent tree cov­er by 2035.  As we cel­e­brat­ed the annu­al Plant Your Age Day on 14th Sep­tem­ber 2023, our team demon­strat­ed how to prac­ti­cal­ly achieve this tree revolution.

Our first tool for exe­cut­ing this tree rev­o­lu­tion is our demo­graph­ics. Each of Kenya’s 55.3 mil­lion peo­ple should be sup­port­ed and nudged to be a tree war­rior who fights tooth and nail for a rapid, sus­tain­able tree cov­er expan­sion. Accord­ing­ly, just like in Sun Tzu’s Art of War, ‘vic­to­ri­ous war­riors win first and then go to war, while defeat­ed war­riors go to war first and then seek to win.’ In this con­text, ‘win­ning’ first means hav­ing a rev­o­lu­tion­ary, win­ning mind­set and strategy.

Kenya’s medi­an age is 19.6 years. If every Kenyan pledged to plant an aver­age of 19.6 trees annu­al­ly, we would end up with 1.08 bil­lion trees annu­al­ly. In just sev­en years, this tree rev­o­lu­tion would deliv­er 7.5 bil­lion trees. But for that to hap­pen, all the tree war­riors would have to shift their mind­set from mere tree plant­i­ng to tree grow­ing. While tree plant­i­ng sim­ply places a seedling into the soil and for­gets about it, tree grow­ing nur­tures that seedling to full maturity.

If we embrace this chal­lenge, Kenya will become a green bea­con of hope that could trig­ger a green rev­o­lu­tion across Africa! That way, Africa’s own for­est cov­er can even­tu­al­ly grow from the cur­rent 22.7% to at least 40%!

Our sec­ond tool for exe­cut­ing a tree rev­o­lu­tion is our pri­vate sec­tor. Yes, our busi­ness­es, as well as learn­ing insti­tu­tions, faith-based insti­tu­tions, and non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions, can play a lead role in grow­ing trees across Kenya.

For instance, Safari­com has a mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion of KES 621 bil­lion, which makes it East and Cen­tral Africa’s most valu­able com­pa­ny. The com­pa­ny has an exten­sive, active sub­scriber base of 46 mil­lion peo­ple. If just half of these sub­scribers were incen­tivized to plant trees equiv­a­lent to their ages, every year, that would amount to 3.75 bil­lion new trees with­in just sev­en years! Safari­com can become a cor­po­rate tree war­rior through dis­count­ed air­time or inter­net bundles.

In the same vein, a bank such as KCB could fol­low suit by turn­ing its 28.9 mil­lion cus­tomers into tree war­riors. The goal would be for half of these cus­tomers to grow trees equiv­a­lent to the aver­age Kenyan age of 19.6 years, for sev­en suc­ces­sive years. This would add 2.37 bil­lion trees to Kenya’s land­scape. Here the incen­tives could include dis­count­ed bank charges and cor­po­rate social invest­ment programs.

Oil mar­keters too can sup­port this cause, as major stake­hold­ers in the cli­mate change con­ver­sa­tion. Vivo Oil for instance could decide that for every two litres of oil import­ed, a tree seedling cost­ing about Kshs 30 is plant­ed. Out of their esti­mat­ed 1.3 bil­lion litres per year per year they would plant 650 mil­lion trees annu­al­ly. After sev­en years, Vivo could con­tribute to the earth­’s lungs with 4.55 bil­lion trees. A green sig­na­ture that could be sealed through dis­count­ed oil pump prices.

In the non-prof­it sec­tor, an inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion such as the World Vision could inte­grate tree grow­ing into exist­ing pro­grams so that the 3.1 mil­lion peo­ple in its sphere of work plant trees equiv­a­lent to their ages. This would result in 425.32 mil­lion trees plant­ed over sev­en years. Sim­i­lar­ly, embassies in Kenya could ral­ly the esti­mat­ed 1.5 mil­lion for­eign­ers to plant 19.6 trees per per­son, then we would achieve 205.6 mil­lion trees in sev­en years.

These sim­ple yet prac­ti­cal struc­tured steps demon­strate a pos­si­bil­i­ty of grow­ing 18.8 bil­lion trees in sev­en years. This would seal Kenya’s emerg­ing role as a ver­i­ta­ble leader in green­ing the earth. The secret lies in turn­ing our ages into annu­al tree grow­ing tar­gets. Think green, act green!


About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Founder and Chair­per­son of Green Africa Foun­da­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion that was found­ed in the year 2000 that cham­pi­ons Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment in Africa.

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