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Interview with the Secretary of Kenya’s National Economic and Social Council

The Global Herald writer, Robert Onsare, had a candid interview with Kenya’s National Economic and Social Council (NESC) secretary, Mr Julius Muia on the strategies the Kenyan Government has put in place to ensure that Vision 2030 will be realized to move the country to an industrialized status.

Before becoming the secretary of NESC, Mr Muia was an accounting and statistics lecture at the university of Nairobi, worked as an examiner with Kenya Accountants and Secretaries National Examination Board (KASNEB), an auditor with Price Waterhouse in Kenya and United Kingdom and a director/secretary in the hotel industry among others.

What is the role National Economic and Social Council (NESC) in ensuring the retaliation of Vision 2030 in Kenya?

As a council we have three strategic thrusts: To deepen the drivers of transformation that were identified in Vision 2030.

Secondly, identify additional drivers of transformation over and above those that were identified from the new and emerging needs as the world is dynamic. So far we have identified climate change, carbon trading, mining and knowledge economy that were not initially anchored in Vision 2030.

And, thirdly, to identify drivers of change and transformation beyond 2030. Example, population dynamics whose policies take long to take effect.

Since there are different ministries, government corporation and institutions charged with the realization of Vision 2030, how do you fit in?

The council is composed of 49 members of whom 20 of them are cabinet ministers and its chaired by the president, in his absence the prime minister is the alternating chairman.

We meet every month to monitor the progress, provide solutions where obstacles emerge in the implementation of the flagship projects that have been identified in Vision 2030.

It should be noted that it’s NESC which conceptualized Vision 2030 and helped to complete it in 2008. Hence we are now working with all Government ministries to ensure that the goals and aspiration therein are translated into a reality.

What is the place of contract signing done annually by different ministries, corporation and institutions?

The Medium Term Plan (MTP) which was developed by the ministry for Planning, National Development and was extracted from Vision 2030.

Vision 2030 is written in 5 year module. The MTP is build on the first 5 years.

Every government ministry and state corporation is supposed to develop a 5 year strategic plan based on Vision 2030.

The budget by the Treasury is tailored based on the MTP to ensure that the 5 year development plan is packed with resources.

Every ministry and state corporation extracts its annual performance contract from its strategic plan to create a mechanism for the implementation of Vision 2030.

The government performance contract pushes every ministry to achieve its vision. The ministry of planning has started developing a MTP for 2012 to 2017.

How can you evaluate your progress so far as a council?

During the recent Commonwealth’s 54 nation meeting at Nairobi, Botswana and Kenya were identified as countries in Africa whose visions have an appropriate frame work for implementation.

The Commonwealth recognized Botswana and Kenya’s Vision 2030 to have been developed in a precise and concrete manner.

So far we have started reaping the fruit of the Vision 2030, for example the new constitution and the on going infrastructure development across the country.

What do you mean by a precise and concrete Vision 2030?

No area concerning any Kenyan welfare has been left out. The flagship projects falls under four pillars. Enablers, like energy, human resource development, infrastructure, security and information communication technology among others.

In the economic pillar, tourism, agriculture, trade, manufacturing, financial services and business process offshoring (BPO) have been identified as the  six areas of competitive advantage to maintain and sustain economic growth of 10 percent annually over the next 25 years.

Further the social pillar will foresee the reviewing of educational curriculum and an educational system that will ensure right skills are acquired for graduates to be job creators rather than job seekers, reclaiming of the water towers, like the Mau complex and increasing forest cover from 1.7 percent to 10 percent. And the political pillar which has given birth to the new constitution.

Can you cite some of the flagship projects that are expected to bring an impact that has never been realized in Kenya?

Isiolo becoming a city. The standard gauge rail line from Mombasa to Maraba which is at the border of Tanzania. The corridor from Lamu to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia via Isiolo. Regional financial service centres, which will be a financial cluster for international banks to locate services like aircraft leasing that is currently done by Malaysia. And the Konza Technology city that will be linked to the Nairobi metropolitan city through a high speed gauge rail line.

What measures have you put in place to sustain and increase the economic growth of 5.6 percent that was registered in 2010?

To sustain the economic gain the country has made so far NESC has developed a policy in agriculture for the country to match out of “rain-fed” to “brain – fed” agriculture. We are championing the harnessing of technology to exploit the agricultural sector.

We advised the Government to invest heavily in infrastructure through bonds that will generate resources to fund infrastructure development a cross the country. The Central Bank of Kenya has already issued three bonds to raise a tune of Sh 75 billion.

What about curbing inflation?

The raising inflation Kenya is experiencing is cost driven or imported inflation from the international rising oil prices and the Kenyan shilling that is weakening against the dollar. The dollar has been growing stronger in the international market. Thus Kenyan inflation is not demand driven: Where there is a lot of money chasing few goods and services.

However, the country can mitigate the crisis by substituting oil with alternative energy, green energy. And in the agricultural front we can fortify food security by embracing brain-fed agricultural. This is necessary, since, with climate change we might be experiencing longer drought period than before.

What prompted you to embrace the cluster analysis approach?

Vision 2030 identifies that Kenya will use the cluster strategy to increase productivity and competitiveness of the Kenyan private sector.

In recognition that Kenya aspires to be globally competitive nation by 2030 – we have been looking for ways to convert these aspirations into a reality.

When we were looking for the challenges of competitiveness in 2009 we commissioned Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research (KIPPRA) to map out the clusters that can be mainstreamed by the Government.

The study was completed in June 2010, six cluster that is horticulture in Naivasha – Limuru, Kisumu fisheries, Transport and logistics at Mombasa, beef cluster in Garissa, ICT cluster in Nairobi and tourism at Mombasa were mapped out and they have have been adopted by the cabinet.

We have started training cluster facilitators across the country. In December last year we trained 40 of them at Nairobi and last month we were at Kisumu for inland fisheries cluster facilitator training, where 50 stakeholders were trained also.

We have formed the Kenyan chapter of Pan Africa Competitiveness Forum (PACF). The body is now creating awareness for the appreciation of cluster strategy.

The cluster strategy enable operators to share information about the market, best practices, sourcing of the inputs, challenges facing the sector, and regulator issues among others.

Each cluster will have a secretariat which will be a knot binding all the clusters together. Through this this cluster system enables national agendas to find their way to the facilitators, every Kenyan citizen.

The NESC secretary is optimistic that all Kenyans will embrace Vision 2030 to translate it from a dream to a reality.

About Robert Okemwa Onsare

Robert Okemwa Onsare
Robert Onsare is pursuing Electronics Technology at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton. He is a Cluster Strategy trained facilitator by Kenya's National Economic and Social Council (NESC). Mr Onsare has been an incubation student at the University of Nairobi, School of Engineering, FabLab, a venture project of the university and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is a member of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) and a published poet. Mr Onsare is based in Kenya.

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