National Cohesion


In its most recent rul­ing on polit­i­cal impeach­ment the Supreme Court not­ed that, ‘It bears men­tion­ing in con­clu­sion that Chap­ter Six of the Con­sti­tu­tion was not enact­ed in vain or for cos­met­ic rea­sons.’ I agree. The same is true of the entire Chap­ter five of our con­sti­tu­tion, which is about land and environment.

Accord­ing to the Chap­ter, two of the prin­ci­ples that should gov­ern land are: sus­tain­able and pro­duc­tive man­age­ment of land resources; trans­par­ent and cost-effec­tive admin­is­tra­tion of land. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, a large per­cent­age of land use in Kenya is not anchored on these prin­ci­ples. This must change.

More specif­i­cal­ly, the Phys­i­cal and Land Use Plan­ning Act, 2019 gov­erns all mat­ters relat­ing to plan­ning, use, reg­u­la­tion and devel­op­ment of land in Kenya. This law intro­duced increased pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion where mem­bers of the pub­lic can exam­ine both Nation­al and Coun­ty plans and pro­vide crit­i­cal feed­back which must be considered.

When is the last time you accessed a land use plan in your Coun­ty and voiced your opin­ions about it? The way we use our land will deter­mine our col­lec­tive well­be­ing and pros­per­i­ty. Such is the land con­ver­sa­tion that we should start having.

The ongo­ing Keny­at­ta Uni­ver­si­ty land tus­sle pro­vides an inter­est­ing glimpse into com­pet­ing land use pri­or­i­ties. On one hand, Keny­at­ta Uni­ver­si­ty says that it already has plans for devel­op­ing its 1,000 acres of land. On its part, the Gov­ern­ment pro­pos­es to sub-divide 41o of those 1,000 acres for note­wor­thy purposes.

It all boils down to land use. That’s why the prin­ci­ples laid down in Chap­ter 5 of the con­sti­tu­tion must remain our north­ern star. Fur­ther to this, the pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion that has been guar­an­teed by the Phys­i­cal and Land Use Plan­ning Act, 2019 is critical.

Accord­ing­ly, the Nation­al and Coun­ty Gov­ern­ments should con­sid­er using our land to attract investors and build great businesses.

A few months ago in April, twen­ty-six Kenyan com­pa­nies com­mit­ted trade invest­ments worth USD 1.6Billion into the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go. These com­pa­nies under­stand that DRC is sub-Saha­ran Africa’s largest coun­try. Its sheer size presents numer­ous oppor­tu­ni­ties for investors. It is there­fore not sur­pris­ing that a com­pa­ny like Tru Foods Lim­it­ed, which is amongst the twen­ty-six Kenyan com­pa­nies is keen on build­ing an edi­ble oil man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in DRC.

Kenyan investors have also flocked into Zanz­ibar. Kenya is now Zanz­ibar sec­ond largest for­eign investor, only behind Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates. Zanzibar’s pris­tine coastal land is undoubt­ed­ly one of the attrac­tive fea­tures for these investors.

Evi­dent­ly, Kenya isn’t lack­ing in investors who can invest bil­lions into prof­itable busi­ness­es. We need to entrench land into this invest­ment con­ver­sa­tion. Our land use shouldn’t just be pegged on sen­ti­men­tal attach­ments or polit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions. Rather, it should guar­an­tee sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic returns.

The Unit­ed Nations Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change advis­es that land use activ­i­ties can result in emis­sions of such green­house gas­es to the atmos­phere or removal of green­house gas­es from the atmos­phere. A great exam­ple is Karu­ra For­est in Nairo­bi. Imag­ine if sev­er­al decades ago, the 2,570 acres of the for­est had been replaced by land uses that neces­si­tat­ed cut­ting down the trees. That would have been dis­as­trous for the envi­ron­ment and Nairo­bi res­i­dents. This for­est con­tin­ues to replen­ish the envi­ron­ment and pro­vide sus­tain­able jobs for thou­sands of people.

Against this back­drop, Keny­at­ta Uni­ver­si­ty should con­sid­er plant­i­ng the World’s great­est  cam­pus for­est on parts of this con­test­ed land. That for­est will be a green recre­ation­al space, a for­est research cen­ter and a mul­ti­ple job creator.

In the same vein, let us bring togeth­er like minds to devel­op green, prof­itable spaces on all idle land across Kenya. 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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