James Momanyi @jamomanyi
Most Kenyans are hopeful that this year will herald better prospects for them unlike last year, which was punctuated by skyrocketing food prices, economic slowdown and violent political campaigns. According to a New Year Survey conducted by Trends & Insights For Africa (Tifa) between December 12 and 16, 64 per cent of Kenyans are optimistic that 2018 will be a better year than 2017.
However, there is a significant number of Kenyans (17 per cent) who are not sure about what the year holds in store and are adopting “a wait and see” attitude. Another 14 per cent feel that this year will be worse.
The survey that polled Kenyans aged 18 and above from a sample size of 1,005 respondents living in urban and rural areas reveals that the optimism levels of Kenyans vary by geographical regions.
Residents of the Central region (81 per cent) are the most optimistic followed by Eastern (73 per cent) and Rift Valley regions (69 per cent). The least optimistic regions include Nyanza and Western, which tie at 49 per cent and North Eastern residents who took the tail end at 42 per cent. Furthermore, more than 75 per cent of Jubilee Party supporters feel that 2018 will be a better year than 2017.
On the contrary not more that 50 per cent of National Super Alliance (Nasa) supporters feel that 2018 will bear good news for Kenyans. In addition, Kenyans expect to see better employment prospects, better political environment, a reduction in the cost of living and better security.
This signifies that Kenyans see the link between better economic performance and improved employment prospects and reduced cost of living. “Kenyans are hopeful that the start of 2018 will be a game-changer, especially on the divisive nature of Kenyan politics and hopefully the year will signal a return to normalcy for the country,” said Tifa chief executive Margaret Ireri said.
Kenyans, she said, are also hoping that politicians will give them a break for the next five years so as to allow the country to focus on development that will spur job creation and the lowering of the standards of living as the country takes a path to economic recovery.
On their perceptions towards some key social pillars such as education and health, 70 per cent and 69 per cent of Kenyans expects basic education and higher education respectively to improve this year.
This is informed by the number of reforms that have been introduced in the education sector; including the expected introduction of a new curriculum, new text book policy and stringent measures that have secured the integrity of national examinations. In the higher education sector, public university lecturers resumed work in December 2017 after they signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the government.
This signalled the end of a protracted battle which had interrupted learning in higher institutions. In the health sector, the doctors and nurses last year also signed new CBAs with the government ending months of strikes that almost brought the sector to its knees.
As for their goals for the year, a third of the total sample said that they intend to set up a business with a higher mention of this among males (35 per cent) as compared to females (29 per cent). The second highest goal is to get a new job by 24 per cent of the sample and advancing education coming third (22 per cent).