By Ephraim Njenga via fb
ARE RWANDA, TANZANIA, UGANDA AND ETHIOPIA BETTER THAN KENYA? CAN THEY CATCH UP WITH US OR EVEN OVERTAKE US?
In recent past I have engaged in some debates about Kenya’s performance compared to regional countries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
There has been a lot of positive vibes coming from these country while only despondency is coming from home.
There are those who say we are being too negative about Kenya and that these regional countries are a hundred years behind and will not catch up anytime soon.
There are those who believe we have stagnated or are even regressing as a country and it is only a matter of time before these countries catch up and overtake us.
Let us look at the figures first.
In terms of population as at 2018 Ethiopia is at 109 million people, Tanzania has 56 million, Kenya 51 million, Uganda is at 43 million and Rwanda is at 12 million.
In terms of land mass Ethiopia has 1.104 million km², Tanzania 945,087 km², Kenya has 580,367 km², Uganda is at 241,037 km² and Rwanda has 26,338 km² (nearly the size of Kajiado County at 21,293 km²)
In terms of GDP Kenya leads at USD 88 billion, Ethiopia is at USD 84 billion, Tanzania is at USD 57 billion, Uganda USD 27 billion and Rwanda is at USD 10 billion.
In terms of GDP per capita (GDP divided by population) Kenya leads at USD 1,711, Tanzania is at USD 1,051, Rwanda is at USD 772, Ethiopia is at USD 773 and Uganda is last at USD 643
Note that Uganda recently rebased their GDP leading to it rising by 11%.
This idea that we are light years ahead of our neighbours is a fallacy. I even wanted to call it nonsense but I am in good mood.
Most of our neighbours have been facing years of political instability and economic misadventures/experimentation. We should be ashamed that they are this close to us.
Furthermore, Kenya is one of the most economically unequal countries in the world. You don’t hear of people starving in these countries neither will you find Kibra like slums there. Cost of living is brutally high in Kenya.
Recently, we have committed costly economic mistakes. Our public debt is sinfully high and spinning out of control. Experiments like interest rate capping have depressed the economy and lowered the growth momentum. These mistakes will drag us down for many years to come.
Our neighbours will have the advantage of learning from our mistakes and running away from them.
People think GDP can only go up. It can go down due to economic recessions. That is how Nigeria overtook South Africa GDP wise.
Kenya was once the region’s leading light in many aspects. Today we are the limping and sick man of the region. Only Uganda is competing with us for that title.
Many of us are sad to see so much potential going to waste. When we say other countries are doing better it is not out of hatred for our country. We say so with so much pain.
If we continue messing up our neighbours will not only catch up with us but they will overtake us. Ethiopia just needs to open up their economy like China did, Uganda just needs to manage their oil riches well, Tanzania has many natural resources including their natural gas reserves now running at over 60 trillion cubic feet. Rwanda is positioning itself as a regional economic fund for manufacturing and services.
I have recently traveled to all these countries save for Ethiopia. One can clearly see that so much is happening there. The things we used to boast of as only existing in Kenya can be found in these countries.
As the above happens we have no development blueprint, we are choking with debt, the Cabinet never meets, public services have collapsed, corruption is at an all time high, governance of the country is in ruins, our economy is slowing down, our GDP figures are suspect. Furthermore, incorrigible criminals are lined up to take power in 2022.
Show me a hopeful Kenyan and I will show you a mad man.
Loving your country is not about empty patriotism. When things are going wrong you have to rise up and say the truth. Our country is sinking and some are still reeling from hangovers of a glorious past gone by.
Some foolish Kenyans who are still doing well economically think their lifestyle is applicable across the country. They think we still have a room to mess around. They call us pessimists, cry babies and prophets of doom for daring to rain on their parade.
We have seen people who used to work as lawyers, accountants, doctors etc turn into prostitutes and illegal miners in countries whose economies have collapsed. There is nothing special about Kenya.
The difference between your posh life and that of the lady in K-Street tonight is hair thin and a factor of time which is running out fast. Stop the complacency and join the forces of change when we still can salvage this country. Soon it will be too late.