This is How Peace and Power Can Guide our Economic Recovery

I was recent­ly receiv­ing my hair­cut, when Jac­in­ta my bar­ber con­fid­ed in me how their busi­ness was suf­fer­ing. She men­tioned that some clients only came to them for com­ple­tion of hair care process­es that they had already start­ed work­ing on at home. Evi­dent­ly, the eco­nom­ic times are so dif­fi­cult that con­sumers are resort­ing to sav­ing in what­ev­er way they can.

This eco­nom­ic down­turn is indeed a glob­al phe­nom­e­non has led to the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund warn­ing that the world econ­o­my was head­ed for stormy waters. Against this bleak eco­nom­ic back­drop, I sug­gest that we do the fol­low­ing three things that may make the lives of Kenyans better.

First­ly, we must unite. Uni­ty isn’t pos­si­ble with­out peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. If we allow polit­i­cal insta­bil­i­ty to pull in dif­fer­ent direc­tions, we will dri­ve down our economy.

A Har­vard paper sheds some light on the link between polit­i­cal insta­bil­i­ty and eco­nom­ic growth. Accord­ing to the paper, the uncer­tain­ty asso­ci­at­ed with an unsta­ble polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment may reduce invest­ment and the speed of eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment. On the oth­er hand, poor eco­nom­ic per­for­mance may lead to polit­i­cal unrest. It’s not acci­den­tal that the five poor­est coun­tries in the world – Burun­di, South Sudan, Cen­tral African Repub­lic, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go and Soma­lia – have all expe­ri­enced extend­ed peri­ods of polit­i­cal instability.

Peace is so expen­sive and if you want to val­ue my state­ment, try war. No won­der For­mer Pres­i­dent Moi said “Siasa ni maisha. Siasa mbaya, maisha mbaya”. Peace begets uni­ty and uni­ty begets steady eco­nom­ic growth. Peace is there­fore the most valu­able nation­al resource we must guard zealously.

Sec­ond­ly, pow­er should be used as a way that makes lives bet­ter for peo­ple. It is the means to that end, not an end in itself. Pow­er is the ulti­mate prize for all politi­cians. When they win elec­tions, they also win pow­er. Those in pow­er and those seek­ing pow­er always claim to be work­ing for the peo­ple and there­fore seek­ing to make their lives better.

In this regard, we must always judge and sup­port all pol­i­cy­mak­ers by inter­ro­gat­ing whether their pol­i­tics is mak­ing our lives bet­ter irre­spec­tive of any pre­vail­ing cir­cum­stances. Any­thing else, whether its revenge or sim­ply pet­ty pol­i­tick­ing must take the back seat. Pow­er must be deployed to make the lives of Kenyans bet­ter. In the same vein, oppo­si­tion politi­cians must seek pow­er in a way that makes Kenyans lives bet­ter. Their pol­i­tics must not make life worse for Kenyans in any shape or form.

Third­ly, a grow­ing econ­o­my will low­er the cost of liv­ing and sup­port liveli­hoods in a sus­tain­able man­ner. Once our lead­er­ship assertive­ly and hon­est­ly choos­es to be inten­tion­al in craft­ing our eco­nom­ic poli­cies then our econ­o­my will be sal­vaged. The econ­o­my must be designed to delib­er­ate­ly sup­port the likes of my bar­ber and mil­lions of oth­er Kenyans who employ their best in the infor­mal sector.

One of the con­crete pol­i­cy mea­sures that can inclu­sive­ly strength­en our econ­o­my is revamped exports. Cur­rent­ly, our export sec­tor is doing so poor­ly that our trade deficit in 2022 was rough­ly 1.3 tril­lion shillings! Such imbal­ance exerts undue pres­sure on our cur­ren­cy lead­ing to high prices of goods and ser­vices. We must there­fore oper­ate like a wound­ed lion to fix the gap using prac­ti­cal mea­sures such as qua­dru­pling the export of skills because we appre­ci­ate that the dias­po­ra com­mu­ni­ty gives Kenya about 370 mil­lion USD per month. Sim­i­lar­ly, we must urgent­ly fix the high cost of car­go air­freight charges to facil­i­tate an increase of hor­ti­cul­tur­al exports. Where­as it costs about 3.8 USD per kilo to move hor­ti­cul­tur­al pro­duce to Europe from Kenya, it costs a pal­try 1.7 USD per kilo to move sim­i­lar pro­duce out of Ethiopia mak­ing our great prod­ucts less com­pet­i­tive even as our econ­o­my bleeds. Any strate­gic pol­i­cy direc­tion that nar­rows this gap leads to jobs cre­ation and strength­en­ing the econ­o­my. Tafakari hayo! 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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