Kenya’s Vision 2030 initiative has captured all facets of development dynamics, including the social, political, economic and the underpinning foundations such as infrastructure, energy, security, public sector reforms and research into a coherent framework.
A fundamental thread that runs through Vision 2030 is the desire for Kenya to ultimately become a knowledge-based economy.
In such an economy, technology, knowledge and skills play a more profound role in economic growth and competitiveness than other factors of production such as labour, capital, and natural resources.
It is envisaged that science and technology will play a bigger role in socio-economic development in the coming decades as they will be the sources of the nation’s competitive advantage.
This is based on the realisation that knowledge is the only factor of production that increases with use as opposed to, say, capital.
All human activities, however basic or rudimentary, apply some form of knowledge. For a nation like Kenya that has crafted a development trajectory that hinges on innovation, ICT and skills, it is imperative that we consciously embrace knowledge management processes and approaches to optimise the implementation of Vision 2030.
Projects and programmes are being done by different ministries and agencies. As in-house implementation roadmaps and project plans are developed, challenges are encountered and resolved, often using novel solutions, and a funding strategy is devised.
The result is that some projects are progressing better than others, leading to the question: what is it that causes the disparities in the way different projects are faring?
A disposition towards sharing information, if institutionalised, will not only help the diffusion of critical insights but will also aid in breaking down barriers — the oft-cited turf mentality — among the implementers.
Once actionable lessons are derived, they could be disseminated through dedicated information-sharing fora and IT-supported knowledge repositories.
The critical role played by research in any country’s development cannot be overstated. All the Vision 2030 pillars have flagship projects and programmes that rely on research.
In different parts of the world, national innovation systems are being developed, underscoring the centrality of research and innovation.
For our part, we will need to institutionalise collaborative and participatory research involving universities, industry, and government. Outputs from such multi-disciplinary research will not only need to be publishable, but also be able to solve real issues facing the implementation of Vision 2030.
The education system as well as the skills and competencies acquired through experience both within and outside the country form the basis for human capital capabilities.
The ICT sector, for instance, has started coordinating with universities and colleges to co-create the curriculum in a way that enhances the preparedness of graduates for work in the industry.
Additionally, countries that have been able to achieve consistent GDP growth are those that have been able to systematically tap the knowledge of their citizens and also deliberately borrow from people from other places.
Examples abound of diaspora Kenyans excelling in different specialisations such as financial services, ICT and environment. These are talents that can be called upon to enrich the realisation of the national goals.
One way to do that is to undertake an audit of skills requirements in light of Vision 2030 and create a database showing where that talent can be found.
Mega flagship projects that currently rely mainly on foreign expatriates also offer opportunities for developing the country’s human capital.
As we implement technology cities, railway terminuses, and superhighways by engaging foreign consultants and contractors, local professionals can collaborate closely with their counterparts from outside the country.
This will facilitate knowledge transfer, allowing the nation to build a critical mass of indigenous experts capable of delivering future transformational projects.
Dr Omar is director, Economic Pillar — Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat