Focus on key areas to revamp economy

Thursday April 20 2017

By EDITORIAL
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The economy remained relatively stable last year despite declines and sluggish performance of key sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.

Most predictions had indicated the country would achieve a six-plus per cent economic growth.

Although that was not achieved, the 5.8 per cent posted, was significant, in fact, a step up from 5.7 per cent in 2015.

The good news was that tourism, which has traditionally been a dominant foreign exchange earner, rebounded with signs that it could still perform better this year.

AGRICULTURE

Notably, the country earned a reputation for high-level and major conferences that brought in revenues for accommodation and food services, shifting focus from the conventional tourism associated with beaches and game safaris.

Even so, we should be concerned about the declining agricultural productivity, which ideally is the mainstay of the economy and employs a large proportion of the population.

Agriculture’s poor performance, a decline from 5.5 per cent to four per cent, is attributed to erratic weather patterns.

Precisely that is the problem; over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture instead of deploying technology and modern techniques is our greatest undoing.

Although some irrigation projects have been launched to boost agricultural productivity, the results are still minimal.

EMPLOYMENT
Similarly, the economy failed to offer adequate jobs for youth.

Fewer jobs were created last year, compared to 2015, a 15 per cent decline, which presents a major social and security problem.

Job creation was a key pillar of Jubilee coalition’s election campaigns and it should be a source of worry for them.

The youth bulge and expansion of higher education mean more are getting into the market every year and require opportunities to utilise their knowledge and skills; failure of which they get lured into crime.

The challenge is to focus on the key drivers of the economy to make a difference.

Agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure and job creation must be prioritised.

The government must put emphasis on security, which in an election year, tends to degenerate with negative consequences on the economy.