The KNBS released the results of the 2019 Kenya Housing and Population Census just recently. Zachary Mwangi, the Director General of KNBS, read the summary of the results at a function which was held at State House. This is before giving the president an opportunity to speak.
In his speech, the president keenly noted that the mobile devices which were used in the 2019 Kenya Housing and Population Census were assembled by our local universities. He also noted that the data capture software used during the census was internally developed by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. This is great progress.
This shows that we are transiting to become a country that utilizes its skilled labour for innovation. This is in line with one of the pillars of the Big Four Agenda which is enhancing manufacturing from 9.2% to 20% of GDP by 2022.
According to the Economic Survey 2019 by KNBS, Kenya’s manufacturing sector grew by 4.2% in 2018 compared to 0.5% in 2017. Just recently, Moi University unveiled locally assembled laptops and computers. This is not forgetting the popular Taifa Laptops by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
It is important to also applaud our country, since we are now manufacturing our own cars. We have vehicles written ‘made in Kenya’ on them. Our local brand of vehicles is called Mobius Motors. The best we can do is support our local brand of cars by preferring to buy Kenyan.
However, what we need to do is mind the welfare of our people. The Economic Survey 2019 by KNBS points out that in the year 2018, our GDP grew by 6.3%. GDP refers to the total value of finished goods and services produced within the boundaries of a country in a specific period of time usually one year.
The tragedy of using GDP as a measure of economic growth is that even if only few people are producing the goods and services in a country, it is assumed that the total population is doing well. There is a difference between economic growth and economic development. The difference is that economic growth solely focuses on the increase of the GDP but economic development focuses on both the increase of the GDP and the welfare of the people. By welfare, I mean the living standards and general well-being of the people.
It is time for us to emphasise more on economic development. Our people are crying about joblessness (especially the youth) and the high cost of living.
We should also make sure that we maximize producing what we are good at. It is sad that our country is importing maize from Uganda and Tanzania. To make matters worse, we are even importing poultry products from Uganda. If we utilize Nakuru, which has a favourable climate for poultry farming, Kenya can become Africa’s leading exporter of poultry products.
The journey towards achieving the manufacturing pillar of the Big Four Agenda is proceeding well. However, we should tighten the screws when it comes to producing what we are best at. Concurrently, we must put more emphasis on making the welfare of our people better.
Mr. Kihu is an economist and founder of The Bizconomist Journal. firstname.lastname@example.org