OWALO: President Ruto’s scorecard for a year

Good progress in agriculture, health, digital superhighway and creative economy

In Summary
  • Health improvements include reduced maternal mortality from 398 to 342 deaths per 100,000 live births.
  • Moreover, the infant mortality rate decreased from 34 to 29 deaths per 1,000 live births.
President William Ruto speaks at the National Executive Retreat in Naivasha on February 21, 2024.
SCORECARD: President William Ruto speaks at the National Executive Retreat in Naivasha on February 21, 2024.

When the Kenya Kwanza government came into office, the President committed to offer transformative leadership guided by the Bottom-Up Transformation Agenda.

It identified agriculture, health, housing, the MSME economy, digital superhighway and creative economy as the five pillars to drive socio-economic transformation.

These pillars will offer the greatest impact for Kenyans at the bottom of the economic pyramid, whilst also reversing endemic economic exclusion.

The foremost priority for Kenyans was reducing the cost of living. Among other interventions, the government has made significant strides in addressing this by implementing a paradigm shift in reducing the cost of food, which accounts for about 54 per cent of household expenditures by subsidising production rather than consumption.

Other measures have included reducing the cost of a 50kg bag of fertiliser from Sh6,500 in 2022 to Sh2,500 in 2023. This strategy has resulted in increased maize production by 30 per cent, thereby reducing the cost of staple food items like unga from Sh250 to about 150. Additionally, reforms in sugarcane, tea, dairy, and cotton have boosted production, jobs and farmers' incomes.

Eighty-five per cent of Kenya’s working population are employed in MSME enterprises where a majority suffer financial exclusion. One of the key promises of the Government was engendering financial inclusion.

The launch of the Hustler Fund in 2022, aimed at providing affordable credit to MSMEs, has been impactful. By December 2023, the Fund had disbursed more than Sh39 billion to 7.7 million borrowers with an impressive 73 per cent repayment rate, thereby bringing those previously excluded into the financial fold while also fostering inclusive growth.

Article 43(b) of the Constitution accords every Kenyan the right to “accessible and adequate housing”. The government committed to the construction of 250,000 affordable housing units annually, and in the process, creating quality youth jobs. As of January 2024, there are more than 50,000 affordable housing units under construction countrywide, creating some 120,000 job opportunities and subsequently, improved incomes.

The government's key commitment to achieving Universal Health Coverage was highlighted through the successful enactment of the Social Health Insurance Act 2023. Operational UHC initiatives, like Afya-Nyumbani, have significantly extended primary healthcare access for Kenyans.

These initiatives have trained and equipped more than 100,000 Community Health Promoters who reached more than a million households, provided services to more than five million people, screened three million for common diseases, and immunised a million children.

Noteworthy health improvements include reduced maternal mortality from 398 to 342 deaths per 100,000 live births and increased antenatal care coverage from 73 per cent to 78 per cent. Moreover, the infant mortality rate decreased from 34 to 29 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The Government also improved drug availability at Kemsa from 28 percent to 64 percent by 2023. With 751,119 new members registered, the total membership reached 16.2 million Kenyans, out of which 7.1 million are active, benefiting approximately 27.3 million Kenyans under the NHIF cover, which translates to about 57 per cent of the population.

The Digital Superhighway was conceived to enhance connectivity, generate jobs and boost e-commerce nationwide. By 2027, the Government plans nationwide deployment of 100,000km fibre-optic cable, 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, and 1,450 digital hubs.

As of February 2024, 8,400 km of fibre-optic cable and 2,200 hotspots have been installed and, 15,682 government services have been on-boarded on the eCitizen platform.

The Government has also undertaken digital skills training for 390,968 youth via Jitume and Ajira programmes resulting in 135,071 ICT job placements.

To support digital entrepreneurship and enhance access, the Government partnered with MNOs to set up a manufacturing plant for the production of low-cost phones in Athi River. By December 2023, the plant had produced 194,000 units.

The plant currently produces 4,500 units daily, for sale at mobile network operators (MNOs) retail outlets, while employing 310 staff. Thanks to these interventions, the ICT sector grew by 7.3 per cent in Q3 of 2023, compared to the annual economic growth of 5.8 per cent.

In addition to progress in the five BETA pillars, the Government also excelled in other key sectors. In Education, 30,000 teachers were hired in 2023, increasing the total to 41,000 from 11,000 in 2022, marking a 272 per cent increase. The transition from Primary to Secondary rose from 84.5 per cent in 2022 to 91per cent in 2023, aiming for 100 per cent eventual transition.

Under the Blue Economy and Maritime sector, 72 Beach Management Units  were transformed into cooperatives by the government, surpassing the 50-unit goal.

This initiative, with 45 units from Lake Victoria and 27 from the Coast, will improve organisation, resource access, funding, and growth opportunities, particularly in the fisheries sector and for small- to medium-sized enterprises.

Whereas it is still early days, the Kenya Kwanza government scorecard shows significant progress towards fulfilling its Manifesto promises. I’m confident that under the guidance of President William Ruto, our contract with the people of Kenya shall be fully, and timely, realised.

The writer is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy

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