By philip Mbithi Kiswii
I promised to offer a rebuttle to Bitange Ndemo’s article on “Dead capital”.
In his article, Bitange seemed to convey the message that most investments in our rural areas qualify to be dead capital, thus not worth of investment in to them.
Its crucial to understand that skewed developments throughout the nation, that has ensured that developments are concentrated in urban centers only (with the same being deficient or minimal in rural areas) is highly to blame for the slow rate of economic growth and developments across the country.
That’s why i have said to many of my friends that managing Nairobi is harder than managing Kenya; imagine with the over 70,000 graduants that are churned out of our universities every year, over 60% of them come to Nairobi to look for jobs each year. Relatively similar percentages are also witnessed from all other cadres, including graduants from our Technical training institutes, and school drop outs. That’s why Nairobi is very difficult to manage.
Demand for public services in the city including jobs has been overstretched beyond capacity. The current Nairobi population that is growing at a high rate is asserting excess pressure to existing city infrastructure, thus making it very difficult to manage the city.
Solid waste management, for example, has been a major challenge, especially given the current exponential city population growth rate. A clear demonstration of a Nairobi city that is overstretched, is “urban squalor” that is visible inform of many informal settlements within Nairobi.
Still talking about Nairobi, we have a dual economy, that consists of a formal economy and a non-formal one. Though we have so many Nairobians who are doing business that is not within the formal brackets (meaning that these people aren’t remitting funds to the government inform of taxes), these people are consuming city services and infrastructure, though what they do doesn’t benefit the government inform of taxes. These people are generating waste, they are using the city transport infrastructure, just to mention a few, but they aren’t paying taxes to promote and sustain the city.
Therefore, we have a single city, that has been overburdened and overstretched, forcing it to experience a myriad of problems that are holding this nation aback. With Nairobi being responsible for 60% of the country’s GDP, one can conclude that running Nairobi is equivalent to running Kenya.
Due to the immense pressure asserted to city infrastructure and services, aspects such as urban sprawl are cropping up, where the territorial boundaries of the city are growing day in day out, and eating into agricultural and pastoral lands surrounding the city. This has been compounded by lack of proper National Land use policies and plans, that can control the growth of the city, to ensure we don’t loose useful agricultural and rural land to urban sprawl.
Based on this background therefore, i want to water down the idea of dead capital fronted by Bitange Ndemo. If kenya has to grow, we must ensure all 47 counties are centers of development and wealth generation. we must ensure basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water etc are supplied to these 47 counties. we must relieve Nairobi the burden it has been shouldering, and ensure that more people develop their livelihoods, talents, skills and careers across Kenya, not just in Nairobi.
Sometimes i go to my rural home, and i lack a proper entertainment joint loaded with good music, Nyama Choma, etc. If these developments start cropping up in rural areas, many people will start investing in these areas, thus Nairobi alone will cease to be the only attractive investment destination in Kenya.
Many rural investments have been rendered “dead capital” due to lack of investment on basic and commensurate infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water, schools, hospitals etc. If these infrastructural developments are supplied across many areas of rural Kenya, most of what Bitange is calling “dead capital” will be transformed to worthwhile investments, with viable returns. (I recommend to Bitange, to read Todaro’s theory on development)
Devolution therefore ushers the best opportunity to open up Kenya, to grow Kenya, to shoulder the burdens that have currently been loaded up to Nairobi city alone, and to ensure that almost all parts of Kenya, become viable investment hot spots.
will be writing more on this in future. Regards!!