Graft, not economic model, hindering development
The conversation on which economic model will deliver higher growth is timely, but we must be careful not to focus only on the narrow aspects of development.
Coexistence of economic models must be embraced as we continue the search for the solution to our development woes.
Both the top-down and bottom-up economic models that are at the centre of the conversation play different roles, sometimes complementing each other.
For instance, in the top-down model, the government emphasises policies that promote large scale projects that in turn influence economic activities in different sectors.
On the other hand, bottom-up models focus on policies that impact specific activities/sectors. Both models can be applicable in the same country.
What Kenyans must be concerned with is leadership and organisational structures. Kenya has suffered greatly from leadership challenges.
From single party rule that stifled personal initiative and entrepreneurship to mega corruption scandals, there have been massive losses of growth opportunities.
Globally, leadership and organisational structures have been key factors in development.
Visionary leaders lay the foundation of economic growth while proper organisational structures and institutions are responsible for maintaining better and effective culture in execution of policies hence facilitating growth.
It would be wrong if our leaders dwelled on discussing economic models instead of expanding the debate to leadership and institutional structures.
For instance, good leadership and governance, as espoused by Chapter Six of the Constitution, must be the focus of our discussion.
The leadership principles that include selecting competent individuals to offices, objectivity and impartiality, honest execution of duties and accountability to the public should be given critical attention.
It is no secret that massive resources have been squandered through embezzlement and misuse of public resources.
For instance the Galana Kulalu food security project, according to reports, failed due to weakness in the contract and implementation process. This is a direct impact of bad governance.
This does not mean such projects are not important. In fact they are critical. They are top down kind of projects that, if well though out, and implemented, could spur growth.
Some projects that are central to economic transformation cannot be undertaken by private enterprises because they cannot generate profits.
These public goods can only be undertaken by the government. Leaders in such projects must be selfless with the best interest of the public at heart.
Further, efficient policies that attract involvement of the private sector must be put in place.
Formulation and implementation of such policies require meticulous processes which include citizen and stakeholder participation.
But for this participation to be meaningful, there is a need for civic education.
Civic education and public participation are the basic building blocks of good governance.
This is because enlightened citizens keep leaders accountable. Informed citizens can identify projects that can spur growth in their community.
Economic models work in collaboration and can substitute one another but the key determinant is leadership and governance.
Kenya should, therefore, strive to put in place proper leadership structures and institutions to foster growth and development. — The writer is a food policy analyst