Opinion and Analysis
Applauding Kibaki legacy in growth of local infrastructure
Posted Tuesday, July 31 2012 at 18:43
Watching President Kibaki launch the 280MW geothermal power plant a fortnight ago set me reflecting on the past ten years of his presidency.
Many will define the Kibaki presidency as an era when the Kenya set a solid foundation for a fast economic take-off through prioritisation of key infrastructure development.
This is after the country had previously gone through two decades of neglect of critical infrastructure.
Socio-economic progress can only be achieved on the back of an adequate and efficient infrastructure. It is this that defines ease and cost of doing business, and the general quality of life.
As Kibaki’s term draws to an end, we have numerous high impact infrastructure projects that are already completed, others are work in progress, while many are in commitment and planning stages. These straddle the transportation, communications and energy sectors, among others.
Vision 2030 has helped to identify and prioritise critical projects, thus avoiding “white elephants” that normally result when “roadside” decisions take precedence over long term planning.
Financing for projects has not been easy. However, the decision to diversify funding and project support to the East as opposed to the traditional West appears to have paid off well.
Further, the country seems to have removed politics from project conception and implementation. There is also evidence of enhanced project “value for money” through improved procurement and management.
Perhaps the highest impact project was the under-sea fibre optic project in the ICT sector. It was also probably the easiest to achieve because of private sector involvement.
The impact has been immediate, and as it continues to be rolled out to the counties, it will have a strong multiplier effect.
Nairobi airport expansion, which is still in progress, is a high economic impact project. The airport project will greatly increase the city’s prominence as a regional and international hub, while supporting increased economic activities such as tourism and international business making it a major generator of foreign exchange.
Along with this has been the modernisation of airports across the country, with Kisumu as the premier example.
The high profile Mombasa Port expansion will accommodate increased external trade for many years, while supporting regional connectivity.
However, to achieve its full value, the port support systems will need to be improved to increase efficiency.