Prof Peter Kagwanja of the African Policy Institute is a consuming debater often obsessed with big ideas. Recently, he penned an article essentially pointing out how Kenya is losing the central pivotal point that she previously played in the region due to the changing socio-political and military circumstances.
Relations in the Horn of Africa are changing, meaning that organisations and institutions that operated in the region must re-examine their objectives if they are to fit into the new environment and remain relevant. The Great Lakes region is also not the same. Kenya is a key player in both.
The Paul Kagame regime in Rwanda has stirred interest in the land-locked country with many organisations setting up shop in Kigali. The city set on a thousand hills has just been listed as the second most preferred conference destination after Cape Town. And this is after our tourism ministry has been demonstrating so much activity. Kenya must be envious and should not just watch!
The case to address the dispute over the ocean boundaries between Kenya and Somalia is ongoing but with the potential of affecting the future access of Kenya to the sea depending on how the case turns out. And to imagine what a big brother Kenyan has been to Somalia over the years! Kenya cannot watch this happen.
Last week, the countries of East Africa presented their budgets to their respective parliaments. The economy of Kenya still dwarfs that of neighbours many times over. In fact, Kenya’s budget is just slightly lower than that of Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda combined. Why then is the nation’s impact appearing to be limited?
Could Kenya be a country of too much activity with little return? In a recent meeting of educationists, the Vice Chancellor of Daystar University, Prof Laban Ayiro pointed out from research findings that Kenya holds a distinguished position of spending money on education but with little return.
The quality of our education is on the decline, worse today than it was a decade or two ago in spite of the increased budgetary allocation and spending. The number of private learning institutions is rivalling that of public ones almost at all levels signaling the privatisation of Kenya’s academy. Compare that with Rwanda where the opposite is the case.
The story of the spending in our education sector is replicated in many other sectors. What the country is obsessed with today in terms of the currency of conversation is not big projects and visionary ideas that positions it for the future. Rather, the currency of conversation is the destruction of the very base of what ought to be: the economy, environment, politics, values. All the foregoing and others should call this nation to a point of conversation: What is Kenya’s dream?
Dr Ekuru Aukot of Third Way Alliance argues that the Jubilee administration has, since coming to power, delivered to Kenya less value for money compared to the Mwai Kibaki administration. Kenya seems to be sliding down slowly from many fronts.
Even our annual prayer meeting seemed to turn into a farce this time round. May be, it is time for those crafting the nation’s vision to step back and interrogate the positioning of the country against all these changing circumstances.
The threat posed by Somalia to our access to the sea should consume all of us as a people and rally the country. We should purpose to strengthen this economy to remain the strongest in the region, but more importantly, to benefit every Kenyan and the government should deliver value for money.
May be, it is time for a rallying call to spell out a compelling vision to which every citizen will rally. Every citizen should see their place in that vision but above all, it should give direction to what role we see the country playing in the changing circumstances in the region. — The writer is the Dean, School of Communication, Daystar University.