Best of Kenya interviewed Dr James Mwangi, Chairman of the Vision 2030 Delivery Board, on the status of the Vision
Q: How committed is Government to Vision 2030?
A: The best indicator that the Government is fully committed to the realisation of Vision 2030 comes from the fact that President Mwai Kibaki never tires of reminding the people of Kenya of the importance of the Vision, which is to transform Kenya into a Middle Income Country by 2030.
Indeed, the President has made realisation of the Vision his legacy. It is evident that the President is committed to giving the Vision the right platform and foundation for its realisation. You will realise that Vision 2030 is insulated from mainstream government — which means that it is not vulnerable to political cycles and whims.
It is also important to note that Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s energy, enthusiasm for the Vision as well as his co-ordination similarly point to a commitment to give the blueprint a strong foundation on which subsequent governments will build towards attaining the Vision.
The third point, which could well be the first, is that the country’s Budget is aligned to Vision 2030. The decision by the Government to do this is the clearest indicator yet of its commitment to the Vision.
Q: Did you say Vision 2030 is sufficiently insulated against the whims of politics and politicians? How?
A: Vision 2030 is mainstreamed in the Constitution through the Bill of Rights, which guarantees citizens the highest attainable standard of health, clean and safe water, goods and services of reasonable quality, shelter and education; to mention but five.
The Bill of Rights is the equivalent of Vision 2030’s social pillar, which rests on the premise that investment in human capital is paramount for economic development. The Constitution is the main frame of Vision 2030 — it is the Constitution that insulates the Vision from political whims.
Q: Is Vision 2030 predicated on donor funding? How enthusiastic are donors about Vision 2030?
A: May I begin by disabusing sceptics and critics of this notion. May I state unequivocally that it is not true that Vision 2030 is predicated on donor funding. Vision 2030, I am proud to say, is independent of donor funding; it is predicated on local resources. Indeed, 95 per cent of the resources for the Vision are to be generated locally, which is why the Budget is aligned to Vision 2030.
The views of donors are not paramount, but those of the private sector and participation of the private sector are crucial. This is why the 120 or more flagship projects of Vision 2030 are all detailed to be private, public sector partnerships (PPP).
Kenya’s private sector is already playing a significant role in Kenya’s road to becoming a Middle Income Country; already Kenya’s banks, for example, are stalwarts in the region and telecommunications companies are making the sector globally competitive.
By bringing the private sector into play through concessions and the public through infrastructure bonds, we have liberated ourselves from donors. Crucially, I would like to state that, as a country, by aligning our Budget to Vision 2030, we have aligned donor funding to Vision 2030.
Q: How does the Board raise funds?
A: Vision 2030 is mandated to raise funds through infrastructure bonds and we have already attained Sh50 billion of which Sh18 billion has been earmarked for energy development and the balance allocated for roads, irrigation and water.
Q: Is the Vision an integrated programme?
A: We are talking about a very integrated programme. The new Constitution stands out as the grandest achievement under the political pillar of Vision 2030. This pillar recognises that the governance system is crucial to the achievement of Kenya’s development agenda.
Regarding education, the school curriculum is being reviewed in line with Vision 2030, which means the Vision is to be inbuilt in Kenya’s education system. Health centres around the country are being aligned to decentralisation of Vision 2030.
Turning to agriculture, to which I have alluded above in relation to money being set aside for irrigation, we aim to have a massive 1 million acres under irrigation. This means more than the doubling of the Mwea and Bura schemes, which are themselves priority projects.
Under Vision 2030, Kenya aims to have an innovative, commercially-oriented and modern agricultural sector.
Needless to say, infrastructure is crucial to Vision 2030 and Kenya has over the last seven years witnessed the highest and most aggressive level of infrastructure development since independence.
Indeed, Kenya is not extending roads; it is creating new roads and, a closer look will reveal something else: the country is being connected better with Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Kisumu’s upgrade to an international airport, capable of handling the new Boeing Dreamliner, is underway and design work on the Lamu deep sea port has already started.
The second and third phases of the expansion of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are underway and the design work for the Mombasa-Malaba high speed commuter train is now on track.
This picture will be incomplete without mention of the eight-lane, double-deck Thika Highway, which should be finished by 2011.
As for Information Technology (IT) or ICT, Kenya has witnessed the fastest growth and innovation in this sector in the region. Vision 2030 states clearly that a competitive economy must embrace ICT and the Board of Vision 2030 is happy to note that Kenya is referred to as the Silicon Valley of banking and telecommunications in the region.
On energy, Kenya has opted for clean energy, green energy, and this is where geothermal power generation comes in. We have the highest endowment of steam in the world, which, coupled with wind power in Turkana, will see the country produce 2,000 kilowatts of power by 2015, double the current level.
May I mention that the Kipevu plant will add 84 megawatts to the grid, and Kindaruma is set to increase production by 50 per cent. The upshot of all this is that, with increased energy, manufacturing will be stepped up considerably.
Q: How about tourism? According to Vision 2030, Kenya aims to be one of the top 10 long-haul destinations in the world?
A: The recovery of Kenya’s tourism from the slump of 2007/2008 has been remarkable. In fact, the tourist arrivals for 2010 surpassed those of 2007. It is why there are new hotels coming up all over the country and why leading global hotel brands are queuing up to invest in Kenya.
Q: In a word, you are saying that Vision 2030 is on track? Is the economy humming along in a comforting way?
A: As far as the enablers go, I can say confidently that we are on track and they all will be in place by 2015. By 2015 most of the projects I have talked about and many others will be completed and Kenyans will see the Vision taking shape and take their place to play their active roles in it.
The World Bank projected that Kenya’s economy would grow by 5.4 per cent in 2010 and rise to 6 per cent in 2011, I am of the view that it will perform better than that for both years. The country has got the microeconomics right; inflation is down to 3 per cent, the exchange rate is stable and interest rates are friendly.
It speaks volumes about the confidence Kenyans have in their economy that remittances from the Diaspora surpassed the Sh150 billion mark in 2010.
We are back on track towards an annual 10 per cent growth target which stood at 7 per cent in 2007, but was slowed by the political upheaval we have come to call the post-election violence.
Q: Are you persuaded that enough has been done to address the factors that led to the political upheaval of 2007/2008, with a view to ensuring it is not repeated?
A: These have been addressed under what is commonly known as Agenda IV, by which we are as a country supposed to ensure constitutional, electoral, judicial, police and public sector reforms. These have been undertaken and are still being done. The Government is committed to reforms and the score card in 2010 was both favourable and positive.
Q: Lastly, are Kenyans ready to play their role in Vision 2030 or, rather, will they be ready come 2015, when all enablers are in place?
A: We are working closely with the Brand Kenya Board, which is creating a national value system for Kenyans in order that they may fit in the new Kenya Vision 2030 is creating. Together with Brand Kenya we wish to impress it on Kenyans that it is vital that we embrace values that will enable us to fit in a global system with high standards of living.