Without writing long stories, I am inclined to simply say it is because its citizenry are LAZY. But I will not say that because it is disrespectful. However, I will say that we as Kenyans are not as productive as we should be. For those who know a little economics (or those with a little common sense really), known that GDP=Work. When we raise our production, our economy raises and so does our development.
Most times we think “corruption”, “poor governance”, and “tribalism” are the reason for our underdevelopment. These are just poor ‘justifications’ that we make for our poor work ethic. The truth is, for a population that has grown from 10m to 50m in ~ 50 years, extra work is needed to feed the extra mouths.
There is only one road to development, adopt policies that make us work twice/thrice as hard. Embrace social change. Embrace a culture that prioritizes work instead of politics. Countries like US developed under cheap labour offered by slaves. China has developed because of cheap labour(basically slavery) offered by its communism policies (Chinese are forced to work like ants for just some few pennies). Ethiopia, next door, has cheap labour. Labour is expensive in Kenya, you cannot force the democratic Kenyans to settle for less. In fact, Kenyans will barely agree to work two jobs a day.
You are adopting a simplistic way of looking at issues. Our society as currently configured actually dissuades people from working. Take access to capital for instance. Where does an ordinary person access capital from? Then the proceeds work to enrich a few.
A peasant may be willing to contribute to the nation’s GDP. How does he achieve this when he is supplied with fake fertilizer and seeds?
I agree completely. I should add that they are some of the smartest(if not the smartest minds) in Africa. But do you know why most of that hard work does not reflect in the economy? Misplaced priorities as a villager has said above. Why should you sweat tilling the grounds when you can employ a tractor and produce more. The secret is the output/GDP. Value addition, working smart. But then it all comes down to labour. We cannot afford better means of production because we have not done the groundwork (which requires great sacrifice and work ethic).
But even after “mechanising” farming and employing modern techniques, if we do not implement the good policies we have other regions will have an advantage over us. Government ( by this I do not mean Jubilee only but also previous governments) has let us down. We need more Michukis in this country. Serious people who deliver despite a few incidences when he had exhibited a lack for respect for the law.
I agree with your conclusion, but disagree on the argument. We are not lazy. I will take an example of our culture.
Our relationship-oriented society is what I think brings us down sometimes. Tuna focus sana kujuana and titles. “It doesn’t matter what you know, but who you know” Chinua Achebe - Man of the People. Halafu hii shit ya two thirds gender rule, sijui boy child, girl child etc…we’ll never get the best out of our human resources. Emotions zitatumaliza.
I wish we could change our culture to be more task-oriented.
What we call our “culture” is what is holding us back. The primitive way of life that was there even before colonization is still being practised. Tunajiangusha the same way we did before the British came. Colonization was easy because the colonists found a backward and weak people who could not resist them. That bad hearted way of life of not wanting your neighbour to advance is what is f***ing us up.
Poor governance is the main problem. We still have “leaders” who get to power to plunder national resources like kings during the precolonial times. These leaders lack vision, wisdom and are greedy to the core…and we are the ones who vote for them in so yeah, it is all our fault.
Let me just add some more context. All developed countries rely on their infrastructure (dams, energy, roads, rail etc) to achieve more efficiency. They work faster, better and produce more than us. Not because they necessarily work harder than us. We lack this critical infrastructure and thus our economy is stuck.
A steel industry (usually the backbone of industrialization) for instance could propel our economy to unprecedented heights. But we don’t have enough energy to run a steel mill. We have like 4GW of total installed electricity. Most countries (even the smallest in Europe) have an average of 50GW. And of course they use all that energy to produce finished products - cars, clothes, jewelry, electrical things etc which we import at extremely high costs. Please tell me why it is cheaper to import clothes from China compared to producing them locally. We lack capacity.
How can we manage to build over 100 dams, miles upon miles of dual-carriage highways, 100s of world-class hospitals, schools etc without crippling the economy with debt? It is simple, agree to work more. Chinese put themselves in 30 years of hard labour instigated by their governments. We can see the results now. They now have a proper infrastructural backbone without foreign capital.
We also have a pretty backward thinking unfortunately. You see countries like South Africa, Germany, USA get their energy from coal. And I have statistics to prove that.
Germany = 198.45 GW(2017). 70% of that comes from ‘unclean’ sources like coal. Compare their capacity with ours (4GW), from clean hydro, geothermal etc.
South Africa = 45.00GW. Just like Germany, most of it from ‘unclean’ coal to the tune of 80%.
In our twisted ‘conservation’ mentality, we refuse to allow coal plants even though they are much cheaper and cleaner now more than ever. Also, I have seen people oppose construction of infrastructure because of the same ‘conservation’ reason while there are clearly measures put in place to safeguard the nature (wildlife etc).
We are already doing mega infrastructure projects but is our economic growth commensurate with the amount that we are pumping in?
Let me ask you a simple question, we have done SGR, we plan to add more lanes to Mombasa road etc. but to what end? What exactly are we planning to use the additional infrastructure to transport? Our balance of trade with China crossed the 1 trillion mark the other day meaning if you compare our imports with whatever we are exporting to China, it is a complete joke.
Great question. I should add, is it even valuable to have it in the first place? Because if the value of the goods tansported cannot equate to its cost, we are being shafted. At the personal level of every citizen should be value addition. China built it for us so that they can transport our raw materials to them faster. Also so that they can send their finished goods to the interior of the continent faster. So, either way it works for them. How can we make it work for us? We can run faster than them and make sure our exports to them are of a higher value.