As we start off the year 2018, it is with knowledge it is also a roll-over of the success attained so far and challenges that we carry over from 2017. So it is optimism with caution and prudence.
Where do we begin?
There are many areas to begin and all are urgent. But looking at the weather, it is evident that global warming is here with us.
Those who have studied weather patterns over time can tell that there have been tremendous changes over time. The frequency of droughts in countries like Kenya has intensified.
The usually cooler parts of the world, especially north of the tropics, are becoming warmer. I should know as I have a day work to do with renewable energy, environmental conservation, biotechnology and technology generally, which afford opportunities to interact and learn from diverse minds and knowledge.
So, food security should be among the top priorities to tackle in 2018. Rain-fed agriculture is evidently not sufficient to satisfy a growing population.
With almost failed short rains in the last quarter of 2017, we certainly have work to do, especially catering for the vulnerable.
Other areas needing a lot of attention include reforms in education sector, security, job creation, more infrastructure development, political and legal reforms but in a democratically progressive way and taming the evils of corruption and tribalism. Others are progressive tax reforms to widen the net but allow economic and business growth, creation of a more business friendly environment, building regional and continental trade, fixing our exports as we are doing far below capacity, and reforming the energy sector and especially making electricity cheaper.
As population grows rapidly we need to be thinking far ahead. The growth of urban — and now even rural — slums should alarm us. The unemployment crisis is a harbinger to more evils and we should tame it in good time by building opportunities for direct employment and self-employment. That inevitably means more economic and political reforms.
There are sectors and industries which given re-invention can create massive absorption of labour. Top among them are manufacturing and tourism. Certainly, a lot of reforms are needed in agriculture and several other sectors and industries.
We start off in 2018 as a heavily politically divided country and we need to create avenues for building consensus.
We should be alive that another round of divisive campaigns in the near future is not far-fetched and this only destroys the nation further.
What to do? Never to give up. Great nations grow through a lot of difficulties. The problems we have are not so unique and even if they were, as human beings we have the minds to build solutions for them. So, I’m optimistic that we can make a better future for Kenya and its people in 2018.
HARRISON MWIRIGI IKUNDA, Nairobi.