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RIGATHI: Leaders must prioritise economic empowerment

 

Africa, according to multiple research based sources, has a population of approximately 1.25 billion people. The continent’s collective GDP currently stands $ 3.25 Trillion (2017). Germany, with a population of 82 million people, registered a GDP of $ 3.77 trillion over the same period. While the GDP per capita of Germany stands at $ 45,000, Africa stands at $ 1,800. Which economic point I am I driving home here?

It is time African leaders accepted the continent has a very long way to go in terms of economic excellence. We understand that every individual desires the best in their lives regardless of African or German dimensions. As you pray to have your child access education in Ivy league facilities, so is your friend, neighbour, employee or relative. Yet the greatest responsibility of directing the continent towards global affluence squarely lies with the leaders.

We may have a number of reasons to justify gloom and frustrations but we have more than a million reasons to envision a better continent and country for all. Kenya’s population currently stands at 48 million people. More than 60 per cent of this number falls within the youth bracket. The immediate implication is that we have an extremely large pool of energy without a tactic of deriving its utility. Therein lays the problem, the question and even the opportunity. How do we overturn our fortunes to make use of all our opportunities? At the moment, Kenya is producing electric energy in quantities that surpass its needs. Therefore, cottage industries within the informal sectors have a reliable source of electric power. In agriculture, we produce more than we can consume. Yet we have frustrated and unpaid farmers and underfed population. These illustrations illustrate the gaps that continue to hold the country back.

In Mathira constituency, we have a rich farming culture, cutting across cultivation of both cash and food crops. Honestly, most of us baby boomers have grown up under the direct sponsorship from coffee and tea sales. Our fees, source of livelihood and even capital for our parent’s businesses came from coffee and tea. What happened then that we cannot now rely on coffee anymore? Forgive my rant-kind of communication but these are the hard questions we must ask for our people. We have to query, interrogate and reflect as leaders on what we can do to write a better economic story.

I have watched many women and even men create a livelihood out of the former open-air market in Karatina. Our new modern market will offer a platform to better the fortunes of this enterprising and industrious cohort of business leaders. When a mother can monetise food crops from her quarter acre land, she is in a position to provide education opportunities for her children. I will continue securing the business positions of hardworking entrepreneurs to the best of my ability.

There are challenges in the process of seeking the best of the people. I can confirm that political leaders experience all manner of hardships in the quest for service delivery. Let us analyze from a two-dimension perspective. A legislator in all assembly platforms has to conduct extensive lobbying for a bill to go through. Party politics are a reality and genuine intentions may not see the light of the day based various political dynamics. Yet we must overcome these barriers for us to marshal Kenya toward prosperity. In this spirit, I urge my fellow legislators to back the Amendment on the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 for the purposes of condensing our domestic business capacity. The bill will realise a buoyant commercial environment that focuses on empowering our tough grinding businessmen and women.

On the development front, installation of critical facilities has its share of challenges. The Karatina Market experience left me with a number of observations. One, a leader should excel in lobbying skills from all ends. It is true that I camped in all relevant national offices seeking to have practical solutions towards the completion of this all-important trading centre. However, firm resolve, aggression and working with a high sense of urgency have made possible a hitherto impossible task. The entire angle around this message is to rally my fellow leaders into accepting that we have a lot to do for the economic sake of the Kenyan people. Let us, therefore, work on overcoming all the barriers that may rise against this noble cause.

Rigathi Gachagua is Mathira MP, Nyeri County

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