If Vision 2030 is to be realised on time, then key sectors of the economy have to be transformed quickly.
Tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure and Information and Communication have underperformed over the last year, according to the latest report tracking their performance.
Their poor score means the vision would not come true in time as the sectors significantly contribute to the realisation of the national dream in about 20 years.
The report, Third Annual Progress, by the Ministry of Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, released last Tuesday said the targets supposed to speed up the vision did not perform as planned, contributing to the sluggish push towards the vision.
Jobs creation, another vital contributor, was not as impressive as expected, as the number of jobs created fell short of the targeted figure.
The report specifically recommends reducing the cost of energy in order to encourage manufacturers to increase investment and boost the sector.
Electricity costs have gone up in recent years, a factor that has pushed the manufacturing sector to the wall.
This is alluded to by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers which says on its website that “the major factor inhibiting growth of a textile industry (and other sectors) in Kenya is the high cost of electricity and its unreliability which accounts for 35 per cent of the cost of fabric production, compared to 16 per cent in India”.
According to the report, energy problems could be solved if other sources of energy such as coal, wind, and geothermal were fully exploited.
The Ministry’s permanent secretary Edward Sambili said progress had been made towards achieving the main objectives of the blueprint, but pointed at the failures, saying much has to be done to bring all the sectors at par.
But not all aspects of the key sectors that scored poorly were to blame. The PS, for example, praised ICT for its tremendous growth, saying it had brought significant benefits to the economy.
“ICT has remarkably grown. The faster Internet occasioned by the arrival sea cables has improved the way communication is done. This has attracted high-end investors,” Dr Sambili said during the launch.
Despite this, the report points at the challenges facing the Business Process Outsourcing, an indispensable section of ICT sector. It was found that there existed such problems as cable vandalism, systems incompatibility, computer hardware and software counterfeits and loose cyber security.
Dr Sambili also singled out the roads sub-sector for praise, pointing out some of the landmark roads — Thika Highway and the ongoing construction of the Eastern by-pass — as important contributors to the expansion of the economy.
The industry sector was sluggish too, returning a poor growth of 4.4 per cent against a target of 10.2. This was due to weak performance in the food, beverages and tobacco manufacturing sub-sectors.
Last year’s economic survey recorded dismal performances in the same sectors revealing the snail’s pace at which the key vision drivers were being accomplished.
The report tracks achievements in line with the demands of Vision 2030 — the nation’s dream of uplifting the economy to a middle income status that was launched in 2008 by President Kibaki.
The latest report covering June 2010 to June 2011 and focuses on the first five-year Medium Term Plan (2008-2012) warns that the key pillars of the vision are yet to be satisfied five years after its launch.
Increased employment is one of the foundations upon which the vision is set. Job opportunities were to be created to enable faster absorption of the ballooning number of unemployed youth supposed to turn around the country’s productivity.
However, this dream is yet to be achieved five months into the last year of the five years encompassed in the medium term plan. During the period captured in the report, for instance, only 503,500 jobs were created — far less than the projected 740,000 — an indication that some distance has to be covered to fulfil the demands.
The Tourism sector was as feeble as the others. The number of tourists, 1.6 million, was short of the expected 2.6 million.
Equally, the agriculture sector continues to face problems as seen in the inability to adequately feed the population.
But Planning assistant minister Peter Kenneth said the improving road infrastructure and the recent discovery of oil in Turkana would immensely boost the drive towards the vision. He said it was possible to achieve it in a shorter time if the Gross Domestic Product growth shoots to 10 per cent. That remains to be seen.
However, the most viable way to arrive at the growth rate is through “quickening the pace of Gross Value Added growth,” the report quipped.