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Open Perspective: Kenya the land of growing superlatives

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I have been around and about lately, exigencies of social development work, regional coordination and capacity building.

From Nairobi the eternal home of the enigmatic Mzee Jomo Kenyatta founder and pacesetter of Kenya’s development, greetings to Malawi and to the most honourable sponsors of Open Perspective

But hush, something terrible has happened here:

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The remains of Former First Lady Lucy Kibaki, who joined her ancestors on 26th April in London, arrived Sunday morning amid much sorrow and mourning.

In the shadows of her passing an old condemned building collapsed killing 21 and injuring over 130, raising serious questions about construction quality standards.

It will be a torturous two weeks for the leadership and people of Kenya. But it will also be a time of much reflection over the 76 year long life, achievements and controversies of Madame Lucy Kibaki.

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In line with Kikuyu tradition, Lucy Kibaki will be committed to her final resting place at Othaya, Nyeri her husband’s ancestral home, on Saturday 7th May after a ‘private funeral’

I have learnt of three admirable albeit cutthroat attributes of Lucy Kibaki:

She stood firmly by her husband in rain or in sunshine. She fiercely protected her family from external interference. And she kept her four children away from the political lime light. Lucy Kibaki was a true Mother Eagle, Rest in Peace Madame.

Yes one more senior African citizen has left. It will be hard for the loved ones left behind, not least President Mwai Kibaki, 85 who in his time presided over decisive reforms that prepared the platform for the present team.

Even in such great pangs of pain Kenya must move forward. She must remain strong and continue to grow into a land of superlatives that many can and should learn from.

Kenya is a culture, society and economy on the move thanks to the solid foundation by the founding leaders and the stewardship of youthful President Uhuru Kenyatta 55 and Deputy President William Ruto 50.

In spite of numerous unhealthy caveats worth attention, Kenya is the largest and most sophisticated economy best linked to the East African Community and a robust anchor for the Community’s economic development strategy.

Thanks to the regional strongman Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who has made regional security and integration his mission. Today, the bloc comprises the original Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda but also includes Rwanda and Burundi with Sudan waiting in the wings.

Kenya boasts one of the most advanced human resource base. The economy is easily the most diversified free market, free enterprise economy championed by a private sector that is supported by an ICT revolution christened ‘Silicon Savannah’.

Private sector, government and international prospectors are investing in the future as universities and private sector technology hubs collaborate in business research and in committed efforts at growing the ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem’ likely to become Kenya’s bedrock for economic modernization.

Perhaps outrageous but legitimate, Kenya is investing in nuclear electricity generation. Six students are completing basic degree studies in South Korea while 11 are pursuing Masters Degrees in nuclear engineering, creating a core team of technicians to be put to work.

Technological advances and steadfast free enterprise policies have led to expansion of private media to an industrial scale. Least known Kenya Television Network was another first in the area of non-pay private media outfits on the continent.

Not only is Kenya the financial centre for East Africa and indeed most of Central Africa, it is the Global First in mobile money technologies, supporting competitively priced and efficient cash transfers and banking – courtesy of Safaricom.

In case you did not know mobile telephony penetration by individual ownership in Kenya is at 82 percent comparable to 89 percent in America. This is no mean feat achieved in a space of a brief decade

Kenya has limited land of any productive value but it has one of the most sophisticated agro-sector industries in Africa with in excess of 30 percent contribution to GDP from horticulture alone.

Remarkably too, Kenya has for long been the global leader in the production of black tea and on the world stage the country manages the second largest tea auction venue at the Mombasa Tea Auction Center.

Nairobi has effectively become the travel hub connecting much of Africa to Europe, Asia and the East in the process standing aggressive global pushing and shoving.

In recent aviation awards, Jomo Kenyatta International or JKA was voted ‘the most improved airport’ in Africa and Kenya Airways the ‘Airline of the Year 2016’ displacing South Africa Airways who have dominated for nearly two decades.

Transport infrastructure is literally revolutionising. As JKA grows into an air transport magnet ten airstrips and major ‘tourist roads’ are up for reconstructions and an improved highway already links Nairobi and Arusha, Tanzania.

Among the mega projects in the offing a new rail line is to soon join Nairobi and Mombasa with links to Kampala Uganda within the framework of regional economic integration.

Kenyans seize every opportunity with remarkable advantage. The country is one of few countries in Africa that have utilised AGOA effectively with growing volumes of textile and apparel exports to USA and an expanding industry at home, as a direct result.

The Kenya Vision 2030 has been the driving force for almost all innovations. Adopted in 2008, this White Paper seeks to turn Kenya into a middle income economy in the next 17 years. And it will happen!

In education, Kenya will build and refurbish 560 secondary schools turning 200 of them into centers of excellence. Meanwhile the number of universities is steadily growing as much as public sponsorship into private universities.

For the period 2012-2015 university enrolment grew by 28 percent annually with another 13,573 students studying abroad in 2012 alone, according to Unesco. Massive expansion!

As we close this is leadership, commitment and aggressive marketing at work. Kenyans have decided their future and they are co-opting national and global expertise to take them to where they want to be in two decades.

What can Malawi learn from such purity of purpose?

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