FRED AMINGA @faminga
During her formative stages, Kenya’s economic growth was largely driven by an Africanisation policy as President Jomo Kenyatta tried to put commerce into the hands of indigenous Kenyans.
Up to 1978 when he died, the economy had grown at an average rate of seven per cent, despite various challenges including the oil crisis of 1974.
Growth was partly the result of measures taken to support agriculture and dairy farming.
Rural incomes rose by up to five per cent a year with smallholders’ share of coffee and tea production rising to 40 and 70 per cent respectively by the time Kenyatta took his final bow. This enabled a sustained surge in commodity exportation providing a good flow of forex.
Commendable economic growth was achieved compared with other developing countries as the public sector made significant strides in promoting infrastructural development with Africanisation of business deepening.
The Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) created by Kenyatta served as a symbol of the country’s stability and investment.
ICDC initially invested nearly £10 million (Sh200 million) in businesses and industries, with a firm commitment towards increasing African participation in the economy. Commitment in the form of loans to entrepreneurs helped Kenyans negotiate foreign credits for major investment.
The Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE), a subsidiary of the ICDC, was used to promote indigenous entrepreneurship by financing and developing small-scale and micro-enterprises.
Jomo also leveraged on the expansion of parastatals which are basically State—owned enterprise to get involved in manufacturing, financial services, processing and marketing of agricultural products and tourism.