President Uhuru Kenyatta this year rolled out four key development pillars commonly referred as the Big Four agenda to consolidate his legacy ahead of 2022 when he exits office.
Unlike his first term, which ended with a mixed bag of achievements and failures in his 2013 manifesto, this time around the President is keen to deliver on ood security, affordable housing, manufacturing and universal healthcare.
He hopes to use the Big Four to transform Kenya economically and leave an enduring legacy.
In the 2018-2019 financial year, the government has allocated Sh400 billion to the four development pillars.
The universal health coverage programme was allocated Sh44.6 billion while Sh6.5 billion went to the ambitious housing project.
Food security was allocated Sh20.25 billion and Sh2.4 billion was set aside to support value addition and raise the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the GDP to 15 per cent by 2022.
Deputy President William Ruto, who has been crisscrossing the country launching projects ranging from roads, water and electricity connectivity to technical institutes has repeatedly said the Jubilee government is determined to deliver on its promises.
“My mission is to ensure the government fulfills the agenda, which is geared towards improving the livelihoods of all Kenyans,” Ruto says.
Jubilee administration scores poorly on food security, going by the annual famine reported in parts of the country. The DP said that government is sensitising Kenyans on the diversification of traditional crops.
“This diversification narrative is what we are focusing on in the Big Four. That is why we had the blue economy conference the other day because we want to get into our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to access more food. That is how we are going to have a food-secure nation,” he said.
He added: “We have now signed an agreement that will make it possible for Kenyans to export macadamia, avocados, horticulture, tea, coffee and pyrethrum into the Chinese market. We can now access a Sh1.3 billion market. That is where any responsible government should be focusing on.”
While Kenyans wait to see how the food, housing and manufacturing pillars of the Big Four will be accomplished, the universal health coverage programme is being piloted in four counties.
Health CS Sicily Kariuki has been to Kisumu, Isiolo, Nyeri and Machakos to launch the projects meant to ensure all Kenyans have access to quality healthcare. President Kenyatta launched the pilot phase in Kisumu last week.
After successful piloting, Sicily said the programme will be rolled out in all the counties.
Belgut MP Nelson Koech said Kenyans expect tangible projects that go along with the promises.
He said there was a need for policy shift in agriculture to ensure food security and creation of employment.
“Agriculture remains the big thing in Kenya. We have sub-sectors that are still virgin which, if government will tap into them, we are good to go in achieving the Big Four. For instance, if we are to achieve food security, as a nation we must prioritise projects that have immediate positive and sustainable impact on food production and employment,” he said.
“As much as we want to see the revival of large-scale irrigation projects across the country, the government should also support small-scale farmers who constitute the bulk of the food production ecosystem,” he added.
The Jubilee administration has promised to construct at least 500,000 affordable houses.
By the end of this financial year in June next year, the government should have put up 170,000 houses.
The Housing ministry will construct 30,000 low cost houses in Nairobi’s Eastlands.
Shauri Moyo estate will be among the first beneficiaries with 5,000 houses. Neighbouring Makongeni estate will get 20,000 units while Starehe will get 3,000.
Some 2,000 affordable houses will be built at Park Road by June.
Chairman of the Roads and Infrastructure committee in the National Assembly David Pkosing said Parliament will play its oversight role to ensure resources allocated to the ministries implementing the Big Four are utilised for the intended purposes.
“Parliament, as an arm of government, we are ready to support the Big Four Agenda. We have provided the necessary resources and we want to see the projects being rolled out. This is what Kenyans expect of the government,” Pkosing said.
He added: “The Big Four Agenda is an ambitious development programme aimed at transforming this country. President Kenyatta and the Deputy President William Ruto have pledged to Kenyans that this is what they want to be judged with at the end of five years and we want to see that those responsible are implementing these projects.”
Pkosing, the Pokot South MP said Parliament has already passed the Housing Development Fund in the controversial Finance Bill 2018 following which all employees will pay 1.5 per cent of their basic salary as the employer contributes another 1.5 per cent.
There are no clear plans on manufacturing. Uhuru has identified seven key areas which include textile, leather processing, agro-processing, construction, oil, mining and gas, iron and steel, ICT and fish processing.
By the 2022, Jubilee promises to have identified two aquaculture investors, local and foreign investors to invest in fish feed mill.
However, experts cite the high cost of energy and cheap imports as major threats.
It remains to be seen whether these ambitious projects will be achieved as the President appears to be more focused on the war on corruption and national unity.