Interview: Chris Kirubi
How would you characterise Kenya’s progress in reaching its targets outlined in Vision 2030?
CHRIS KIRUBI: Kenya is currently implementing the Vision 2030’s Second Medium Term Plan covering 2013-17. The government has put in concerted effort to ensure that we meet the targets set in its vision by putting in place measures that accelerate economic growth. Public sector reforms have, for example, been instituted to improve the ease of doing business in Kenya. To facilitate trade with other EAC member countries, the government launched a National Electronic Single Window System that enables traders to complete all official procedures from a single entry point. This effectively cuts down the delays that traders previously experienced going from one government agency to the next. We have also witnessed increased government spending in infrastructure and the willingness of government to enter into partnerships with the private sector to deliver services that accelerate economic growth. We are certainly on the way to meeting the targets set in the economic pillar of Vision 2030.
The major challenges certainly revolve around ensuring that government funds are not misappropriated or completely misused in such a way that we are not able to achieve our goals. The issue of accountability requires constant monitoring and assessment. More effort also needs to be put in ensuring that we are meeting the targets in the social pillar, like achieving our Millennium Development Goals for universal health care and education for all children, for example.
In what ways can training be improved in terms of preparing young people for future employment?
KIRUBI: I think there is consensus amongst Kenyans that our education system needs to be overhauled and focused less on test taking and more on equipping young people with skills. To this end, the government is piloting a new system that focuses on continuous learning and intake of subject material, and we will support them wholeheartedly. Having said that, I think that the government needs to ensure that there is more collaboration with the private sector, to ensure that the curriculum reflects the needs of the market. We must create more space for research and development so that our students are able to innovate and come up with home-grown solutions for local problems.
How can Kenya’s industrial output be improved to help secure future growth?
KIRUBI: Although as a country we are transitioning to a technologically driven economy, we are still very dependent on industrial growth. The sector remains a key driver of our economy and the government must continually find ways of enhancing production, while bearing in mind that resources are scarce. First, we must focus on value addition and improving quality. Secondly, we must ask ourselves what synergies we can exploit. For example, how we can use innovation and technology to improve industry and vice versa. Most importantly, the government must be responsible for securing primary resources, setting favourable policy and developing our capacity to compete.
What effects have recent volatility in global markets had on Kenya’s economy?
KIRUBI: Kenya’s economy has for the most part weathered this volatility very well. Unlike other resource driven economies, Kenya does not depend on trade in commodities to thrive. Instead, our economy is driven by the manufacturing, agriculture, service and technology sectors. Our efforts to improve the cost of doing business and the operating environment have translated into increased interest by foreign investors. African countries have also doubled their efforts to trade within the continent and it is paying off. Intra-Africa trade is bridging the gap caused by the weak global markets. In addition, state investment in infrastructure, like the Standard-Gauge Railway, has contributed to growth.
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