Kenya’s goal of maintaining an upward growth of its economy through the ambitious Big Four Agenda seems elusive as only less than one per cent of set targets have been met.
At the beginning of his second term in office, President Uhuru Kenyatta outlined four pillars of development that would form the basis of his legacy: Food security, affordable housing, universal healthcare and manufacturing.
But with less than two and a half years left of his tenure, the Big Four agenda projects are struggling to take shape.
Last week, the government received the first 228 complete housing units out of the 1,370 under construction at the Park Road Project in Nairobi. The national affordable housing project targets to build at least 500,000 new homes in the next two years.
Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Charles Hinga, exuded confidence that the government will deliver the 500,000 affordable housing units by 2022.
Despite a housing deficit of two million, which continues to grow at a rate of about 200,000 units a year, Mr Hinga was optimistic and insisted that the government was on course to deliver affordable housing.
“The second and third phases of the project will be completed in June and December 2020 respectively,” he said, adding that the national govt has an understanding with 28 counties for building of 2,000 housing units per county.
In 2018, the government launched the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), targeting to provide all 47 million citizens with affordable healthcare by 2022.
But recent contentious policy changes announced by the National Hospital Insurance Fund, and which were suspended by President Kenyatta, proved just how hard UHC will be to fulfil.
Some of the contentious rules included requiring individuals who voluntarily join the scheme to wait for three months before accessing scheme benefits, a decision that would hamper the access to healthcare under the UHC.
Further, the cost of the roll-out has been slowed down by a poor performing economy. The success of the programme is dependent on improvement of health facilities in the counties and employment of more health workers yet the government has frozen employment as one of the measures to control public spending.
“We are already in four counties with the role out of the UHC. We are on track as far as UHC is concerned,’’ said government spokesman, Col (rtd) Cyrus Oguna.
On food security, recent official estimates show over 10 million Kenyans are food insecure with majority of them living on food relief while households are incurring huge food bills due to costly food prices.
The fourth agenda, manufacturing, is currently taking a hit from high operating costs, high electricity costs and a heavy taxation burden.
The Big 4 Agenda seeks to increase the GDP contribution of the sector to 15 per cent by 2022.
“There are many manufacturing projects going on in the country and maybe we as a government are not talking much about them. In Mombasa alone, the government has more than 40 projects going on,” said Col. Oguna.