Where's double-digit growth UhuRuto promised?

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s record is already one of abandoned promises, sidelined issues and inaction

In Summary
  • The 58-year-old head of state is walking a tightrope on his development pledges that formed the bedrock of his presidential campaigns.
  • HIs scorecard? Not so good.
William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta
William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta
Image: FILE

Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto made a string of promises during their Kusema na Kutenda (Speak and Act) campaigns in 2013 and in 2017. 

Many of them made headlines — from free laptops for all Class 1 children to double-digit economic growth.

The Jubilee Manifesto, the electoral platform on which the Uhuru administration was elected, was themed on securing prosperity for all Kenyans.


It aimed for a future with the promise of prosperity and opportunity for all, built around the pillars of unity, the economy and openness.

It describes 23 programs. They include the elimination of ethnic division; keeping Kenya safe and secure from terrorists; making the country a strong trading partner in Africa; securing Kenya’s legacy as a sporting nation;  celebrating its culture; building a healthier Kenya; empowering youth and women; increasing social protection and building an enterprise economy, among other pledges.

So how has the Jubilee administration done, with 36 months to the next election?

Food security

In 2013 Jubilee promised to put a million acres of land under modern irrigation within five years. The country now has 470,000 acres under irrigation, according to January 28 data from the National irrigation board.

This means about 530,000 more acres should have been irrigated in 2018 in order to reach the 1 million-acre target.


President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto promised a seven to 10 per cent growth rate in the first two years of the Jubilee government to help create jobs for millions of young people. 

According to the Economic Survey published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the economy grew 4.5 per cent in 2012, 5.9 per cent in 2013 and 5.4 per cent in 2014. In 2015 it expanded 5.7 per cent,  5.9 per cent in 2016 and 4.9 per cent in 2017.


The Sh24.6 billion Digital Literacy Programme, popularly known as the schools' laptops project, was among President Uhuru’s pet projects when he came to power in 2013.

The programme took four years to be rolled out and when it was finally 'done', not all children received laptops — actually scaled back to tablets for pupils. Others got devices but they did not have electrified classrooms and dust-free places to use the devices and store them.

Questions arose as to how pupils studying under trees or in dilapidated mud-walled classrooms without desks would benefit from sophisticated technologies. Might latrines come first?

This year, due to drastic budget cuts, the Ministry of Education announced it was shifting focus to constructing computer laboratories in schools as an alternative to laptops.

The Stadiums

President Kenyatta promised to build five new national sports stadia in Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Garissa. He also said that he would upgrade existing sporting facilities in counties to accommodate swimming, tennis, basketball and rugby.

Seven years down the line, the promises remain a pipe dream with sports seemingly neglected. The President had also said he would roll out a network of National Academies for young people, each one specialising in a particular sport or branch of the creative arts.


It has taken President Uhuru seven years to work on a Universal Healthcare programme, which he had promised in the lead-up to the 2013 polls.

Jubilee had in the first term promised to guarantee that every family has access to a fully equipped health centre within five miles of their home, with a national network of local community health workers promoting preventive health based at the centres.

To achieve free primary healthcare for all Kenyans, Uhuru had promised that he would start with women, expectant and breastfeeding mothers and persons with disabilities. He was to do this by increasing health financing from six per cent to 15 per cent.

However, despite challenges, the President managed to deliver free maternal healthcare for women across public health facilities through direct grants to county governments offering the services.


Most of the Education reforms promised in Education by the President remain elusive.

The President had promised to increase the number of schools in disadvantaged areas and restrict class sizes to a maximum of  40 learners. He also promised to increase the student-teacher ratio to one teacher for every 40 students.

This is yet to be achieved, as the Teachers Service Commission is yet to get enough funding from the government to hire more tutors.

Uhuru had also promised to increase education funding by one per cent each year so that by 2018 it would reach 32 per cent of government spending.

Schoolgoing children were excited when Uhuru announced that he would reintroduce the free milk programme in schools.

He had said the government would provide milk to every primary school child, which would be sourced from county-based dairy farmer saccos.

Women's empowerment

Uhuru had promised in the Jubilee manifesto of 2013 that he would double the number of women elected to Parliament by amending the Constitution to replace the 12 nominated MPs, with 60 MPs elected by proportional representation, with 48 of the seats reserved for women.

He had also said he would implement the ‘one-third rule’ (now known as the two-thirds gender rule) to ensure at least 33 per cent of all government and parastatal appointments are women.

But efforts by women to enact a law to provide for their at least one-third representation in Parliament and other appointive bodies have suffered four setbacks. Members of the male-dominated House repeatedly stayed away, making a vote impossible for lack of quorum.

One million jobs per year.

While the government has been insisting that it has created jobs, many critics argue that most of the jobs created are in the informal sector and not formal jobs.

President Uhuru had promised that he would actively grow Kenya’s manufacturing sector. He said he would offer tax incentives and grants for overseas companies to establish industrial plants to supply country and the wider East African economy.


The Jubilee government had promised that it would ensure that every Kenyan has access to electricity by 2020.

However, the government is yet to connect all households across the country to power with the connectivity standing at about 57 per cent, according to recent research by Infotrack Research and Consulting.


The government had promised to increase efficiency in agricultural production through mechanisation and employment of modern technology, It said it would enhance the certified seed and fertiliser subsidy programme to reduce the cost of food production.

The government had also promised to put 2.5 million acres of land under irrigation. However, the Galana Kulalu pet project appears to have collapsed after gobbling up billions of shillings.