Economy, Leadership

How We Can Navigate Population Growth in The Face of Opportunities and Challenges

The world’s pop­u­la­tion has tripled with­in the last 70 years. In 1950, there were rough­ly 2.5 bil­lion peo­ple. By Novem­ber 15, 2022, the Unit­ed Nations report­ed an epic mile­stone: 8 bil­lion souls. To make it clear­er, in 1969 the year that I was born, our pop­u­la­tion was about 10 mil­lion, today we have about 53.1 mil­lion Kenyans.  What impli­ca­tions does this hold glob­al­ly? And, more cru­cial­ly, what does it sig­ni­fy for Kenya? Two key points emerge.

First­ly, we should con­tin­u­ous­ly express grat­i­tude for the gift of life. Despite child­birth appear­ing com­mon­place, it’s an extra­or­di­nary occur­rence we must thank God for. This per­spec­tive becomes clear­er when con­sid­er­ing the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion’s (WHO) esti­mate that 1 in 6 indi­vid­u­als glob­al­ly strug­gle with infertility.

Sec­ond­ly, the neces­si­ty to pre­pare for this boom­ing pop­u­la­tion is press­ing. Most politi­cians, often pre­oc­cu­pied with short elec­tion cycles, empha­size imme­di­ate con­cerns at the expense of press­ing long-term neces­si­ties. Such short­sight­ed­ness must end.

The future beck­ons respon­si­bil­i­ty. Par­ents should be whol­ly account­able for their off­spring, and in par­al­lel, our Kenyan Gov­ern­ment must remain com­mit­ted to its cit­i­zen­ry, uphold­ing all con­sti­tu­tion­al rights. Notably, Arti­cle 53 of our con­sti­tu­tion ensures every child enjoys rights includ­ing free, com­pul­so­ry edu­ca­tion, and access to basic nutri­tion, shel­ter, and healthcare.

Ful­fill­ing these fun­da­men­tal rights requires finan­cial com­mit­ment. To illus­trate, the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion allo­cat­ed Sh89.4 bil­lion for pri­ma­ry, junior, and sec­ondary school edu­ca­tion in the Finan­cial Year 2022/2023.

Giv­en pro­jec­tions esti­mat­ing Kenya’s pop­u­la­tion to surge to 60 mil­lion by 2030, proac­tive prepa­ra­tions are essen­tial. From accom­mo­dat­ing increas­ing school enroll­ments to man­ag­ing the influx of col­lege grad­u­ates — are our edu­ca­tion­al facil­i­ties suf­fi­cient? Can we main­tain an opti­mal Pupil-Teacher Ratio of 40:1? The same applies to many oth­er sectors.

More­over, pop­u­la­tion growth invari­ably leads to urban expan­sion. As per UN Habi­tat fore­casts, by 2030, half of Kenyans will reside in urban locales. Such pre­dic­tions neces­si­tate urban infra­struc­ture devel­op­ment in tan­dem with this growth, espe­cial­ly in sec­tors like water and hous­ing. Notably, cities like Nairo­bi and Mom­basa are already grap­pling with these chal­lenges. Hence, it is of utmost impor­tance that trans­for­ma­tive ini­tia­tives, like Pres­i­dent Ruto’s afford­able hous­ing project, gar­ner unwa­ver­ing sup­port. On his part, it would be pru­dent for the pres­i­dent to ensure this pro­gram stands as a bea­con of integri­ty, espe­cial­ly giv­en the Kenyan pop­u­lace’s six decades of stand­ing griev­ances with recur­rent corruption.

Fur­ther, the Kenya Nation­al Bureau of Sta­tis­tics (KNBS) has recent­ly unveiled our eco­nom­ic per­for­mance, high­light­ing a mod­est surge in cer­tain domains, notably the agri­cul­tur­al sec­tor. How­ev­er, the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, alarm­ing­ly, has wit­nessed a decline. Giv­en our mush­room­ing pop­u­la­tion, delib­er­ate­ly lis­ten­ing, and strength­en­ing issues con­sis­tent­ly raised by the Kenya Asso­ci­a­tion of Man­u­fac­tur­ers (KAM) is imper­a­tive to reju­ve­nate our fal­ter­ing econ­o­my. It is this very data that should ignite a fer­vent call to action among all stake­hold­ers, com­pelling them to invest their utmost efforts with a long-term vision in mind.

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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