Uhuru races against time to finish legacy projects months to his exit

Thursday February 25 2021
Uhuru Kenyatta.

President Uhuru Kenyatta (second right) tours the ongoing urban renewal and affordable housing projects in Ngara and Pangani neighbourhoods in Kenya's capital Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


With 18 months to his retirement next year, President Uhuru Kenyatta appears in a rush to have government programmes completed to secure his legacy.

Last week, the president met his top administration officials in State House, Nairobi, and directed them to speed up the implementation of his legacy projects across the country ahead of the 2022 elections.

The State House meeting came a day after he made changes in the top ranks of the Executive, appointing five new chief administrative secretaries (formerly assistant ministers) and transferring five principal secretaries.

A State House statement announcing the changes indicated they were meant to foster efficiency and expedite the implementation of various government programmes.

In recent weeks, the president has also dispatched groups of Cabinet ministers to inspect infrastructure projects across the country.

For his first election in 2013, President Kenyatta campaigned on the ambitious platform of social and economic transformation — promising, among other things, to expand the country’s infrastructure and modernise the education system. Assessments of achievements during the president’s first term in office are mixed. The administration is especially credited with building the 480km standard gauge railway between Mombasa and Nairobi — a significant upgrade of the metre-gauge track constructed by the British colonialists in 1902 — and increasing the number of Kenyans connected to electricity to about 60 percent of the population from 27 percent in 2013.


It also subsidised tuition in day secondary schools and scrapped fees for national examinations.

But critics have faulted the administration’s failure to meet many other pledges like giving every child in primary school a laptop and the relative underperformance of the economy compared to the growth during the tenure of his predecessor, Mwai Kibaki.

President Kenyatta shrugged off attacks on his government’s perceived failures by the opposition to win re-election in 2017, unveiling yet another set of ambitious promises under his Big Four Agenda development blueprint.

Under the Big Four Agenda, the administration set itself goals to increase manufacturing’s share of GDP to 15 percent from nine percent three years ago, build 500,000 affordable houses, roll out universal health care and improve food security through large-scale agricultural production.

But faced with financial constraints, attributed mostly to a burgeoning public debt and the economic disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic, none of these goals is on course to being realised within the remaining 18 months of the president’s second and final term in office.

Only 228 houses have so far been handed over to low-income families in Nairobi.