Na SPECIAL REPORTER for Gusii. December 12, 2014
238 Years Of Unalienable Rights: Happy Birthday To Good Ol' US Of A
Kenya's Referendum 2010: Ogoitona
Happy Independence Day to all Kenyans. Jamhuri Day is a great day to reflect on our failures and successes as a Nation. It is a good idea to reflect on our successes so that we can replicate those. We reflect on the failures as well so that we do not repeat them.
After retiring from public service, many leaders reflect on their accomplishments. They ponder over the policies they that they have instituted and wonder if they could have done more. That is what happened with our Former President Mwai Kibaki.
After retiring from government last year, President Mwai Kibaki lamented on our missed opportunities as a Nation. In a great speech on December 2, 2013 at the University of Nairobi, President Mwai Kibaki said that "The descent into a period of backsliding and stagnation that followed this terrific start lasted almost one complete human generation. Well, at times every country experiences down moments characterized with diminished fortunes. And Kenya had its own share of time of wandering in the wild. Those were, effectively, Kenya’s years in the wilderness, the years during which Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea left countries like Kenya far behind and yet, on the starting line, we had begun virtually shoulder-to-shoulder with respect to development and potential"
Why did the President mention Singapore in that lecture? First, both Kenya and Singapore attained Independence around the same time. Kenya became independent on December 12, 1963, and Singapore attained her independence on August 9, 1965.
Even though Kenya and Singapore have been independent roughly in the same period of time, there are stark economic differences between the two. It is worth noting that even though the President lamented about our missed opportunities as a Nation, he was part of our Government the entire time !!
The President served in various capacities in the Kenya goverment from 1963 to 2013. Why was he lamenting about the deplorable state of our development after he retired from office? Why lament now?
We may never know.
The President said that Kenya and Singapore started their economic journey on the same starting line. They started on a level playing field, so to speak. They were economic twins who happened to live in different parts of the world. Fifty years later, the economic and social disparities between these siblings are staggering as the President acknowledged.
In reading the speech, we were astounded by it's candor and honesty.
The President mentioned the disparities between our country and Singapore and it made us the more curious to find for ourselves what those differences were. Inspite of the fact that Kenya and Singapore attained self rule at about the same time, we found many distinct differences. The disparities we found are very many but we chose to explore a few as follows:
Disclaimer: All stats and data for this post were obtained from the World Bank Data Sets, 2013-2014. The Corruption Perception Index data was obtained from Transparency International. Thanks.
[ I ]. Rule Of Law:
In Judicial matters, Kenya upholds the Rule of Law 57.4% of the time, whereas Singapore upholds it 95.3% of the time. What does this mean? This means for instance that if a citizen of Kenya is wronged and goes to our Courts to obtain redress, justice will prevail only in 57.4% of the time. The other 42.6% of the time, the justice system looks the other way.
This is a lot of injustice for democratic country like ours. This means that we the people need to look at our entire Judiciary and fix it from the bottom up. The Judiciary works for us, not the other way around. If we do not correct this, then we are to blame and should not complain.
[ II ]. Unemployment Rate
According to the World Bank, 40% of Kenyan adults are unemployed. In Singapore, only 2.8% of the adult population is unemployed. This means that 40% of our people wake up every day and have nothing to do. Why is this happening in our great country? We do not have an answer but we think that with devolution, our Governors, Senators, MPs and MCAs can work together to resolve this on a County by County basis.
[ III ]. Literacy Rate
As a country, we have done an outstanding job. Our literacy rate is almost on par with most developed countries. The disparity in the literacy rate between Kenya and Singapore is very minimal. In this area, we need to keep up with the current literacy program because it is working. This Jamhuri day, let us pat ourselves on on backs for the amazing efforts in eliminating illiteracy.
[ IV ]. Corruption Perception Index:
Corruption is a disease. It stunts development. It prevents fairness and justice and brings economic development to standstill. Transparency International has been researching corruption in world governments for decades.
Year after , we are at the bottom of the heap. A high Corruption Perception Index indicates clean systems in government. A lower number indicates that corruption is high for that country. Eliminating corruption starts with me and you. We have to work together to clean up this scourge. Again, this is an area where we the people, the Police and Judiciary need to work together to restore confidence in our systems.
[ V ]. Life Expectancy
It used to be worse. Twenty years ago, our life expectancy was only 47.5 years. A Kenyan child born then could only expect to live to 47.5 years !! Now our life expectancy has increesed to 61 years while Singapore's stands at 82. The increase in our life expectancy can be attributed to many factors including more health care availability at counties, and health education. What do you think?
[ VI ]. Infant Mortality Rate:
The infant mortality rate is the number of child deaths per 1000 live births. In Singapore, only 2 children out of 1000 live births die as infants. In our country, almost 50% of children born, die as infants. How can we improve health care for our children in their early years to reduce our infant mortality rate? Again, let us look to ourselves and improve on this opportunity.
[ VII ]. Internet Availabitity
Are you on Facebook and Twitter? Do you listen to Egesa FM and Citizen Radio online? If so, then you are among the fortunate 39% of Kenyans. The other 61% of Kenyans do not yet have this great medium of communication. The Internet is education. It is a source of knowledge and a World University.
Without knowledge, we cannot progress or prosper. The future of education, medicine, governance, economic production and peace is through the Internet. How do we ensure that every Kenyan has access to the Internet?
[ VIII ]. The Per Capita GDP
What is GDP? This is A measure of the total production of any country. In GDP, the gross domestic product (GDP) is divided by the number of people in that country. The higher the GDP of a country the better. Between 2010 and 2014, The GDP Per Capita of our country is just $994.00 In Singapore, the GDP is $61,567.28.
Economists love the GDP. Lenders to foreign governments love the GDP. In addition to showing the relative economic health of a country, the GDP is also a strong indicator of economic production. It shows that the people are working and producing something of value to others. That something is then pegged to a monetary value, to be exchanged or exported for cash. Countries with high GDP Per Capita do not like handouts. They hate borrowing and their citizens are more satisfied financially. How is our manufacturing and production working for us?
Compared to Singapore, we produce nothing !!
We have to ramp up our economic production in areas such as technology, manufacturing and services. How do we stimulate economic production through manufacturing? How do we make it easier for business to thrive in our country so that everyone can benefit?
Wananchi, Happy Jamhuri Day and thanks for listening.