A leading economist on Wednesday warned that the discovery of oil in Kenya meant the country had the “opportunity of a lifetime” or could face a potential “nightmare”.
Speaking in Nairobi at the launch of a new initiative — Africa Means Business — Professor Paul Collier, an expert on economics in Africa, said Kenya could avoid oil revenue becoming a curse in the future but that there were dangers.
Prof Collier said if Kenya wanted to avoid the mistakes made by Nigeria after it discovered oil in the seventies, it needed to take a series of steps to protect income for future generations.
He cited the three key areas where action was needed: putting rules in place to ensure sound economic decision making; establishing dedicated institutions to reinforce the rules; and creating a critical mass of citizens who understand those rules.
Speaking at Strathmore University, Nairobi, he said: “A lot of Africa has a burning sense of never again. You know your natural resources have been plundered in the past and you don’t want them to be plundered in the future.”
Prof Collier was one of the speakers at the launch of Africa Means Business, a programme devoted to improving Kenyans’ understanding of economics and business by bringing journalists and economists together.