For the County Government to transform Kenya’s economy, the quality of leaders elected to head the new governance structure will play a major role.

Speaking at a Panel Discussion during the launch of Kenya Economic Update by the World Bank, whose theme was “Navigating the storm, delivering the promise,” Tourism Minister Najib Balala said academic qualifications and experience were not enough for leaders to spur development.

“It should be about the credentials of that person,” he said, “we need to elect people of integrity; we need to have leadership and institution capacity plus the execution of the policies in order for us to have Kenya we want.”

Balala warned those who will be vying for the top seats not to be driven by the self interests because Kenyans have learned and they can do anything to take rid of them. “This is a new era, we are much different from what we used to be before. The constitution has given people power and they can even do a coup to take out somebody from power,” he said.

At the same time, Planning and Vision 2030 Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth said that devolution varies from one country to another. Kenneth said that issues of export, investment and productivity are very important if we want to see a change and achieve vision 2030. “If the economy is at 5 percent we can’t achieve vision 2030and we are even doing poorly as country having in mind that the economy growth of sub Saharan countries is at 6 percent,” said Kenneth.

In the discussion Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Betty Maina said that the country has not done adequate preparation for the devolution process. Maina said that it is worrying to see that we are entering in a year where there will be less energy to answer big questions and not more has been done in the constitution. “We need to know which institution which is responsible for mid wifing devolution process for I think we need to have adequate preparation before next year’s election,” said Ms Maina.

Ms Maina said that Kenya has the manpower to manufacture but it always takes time to make decisions on whom to do what and not taking fundamental challenges seriously. The Kenya Economic Update 2012 says this will be a defining year for Kenya due to national elections and deteriorating global economic conditions.

The report says that if Kenya manages these challenges they may set the foundation for a more prosperous future. Speaking at the same conference, Aurelien Kruse, Economist and one of the co-authors of the report,  said that the greatest challenge of devolution is to ensure fair distribution of national resources in response to the peculiar needs of the counties and to balance national interests.

“The objective will be to equalise opportunities for all Kenyans while appreciating that economic growth will be concentrated in certain areas,” said Kruise.

 

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