Politics and policy
Uhuru banks on agricultural sector to create 3m jobs
Posted Tuesday, September 17 2013 at 21:15
- President seeks to transform sector to lower food costs and provide income source.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is banking on value addition in agriculture to create three million jobs in the next three years and to accelerate economic growth to seven per cent annually.
The President said the jobs would be created in agribusiness, irrigation and food security initiatives.
“In keeping with the Vision 2030’s medium term plan, we will transform the agriculture sector to lower food costs and promote food security. By making farming a commercial activity, 70 per cent of our people will immediately generate improved earnings,” said Mr Kenyatta during the Kenya Rising economic conference in Nairobi on Tuesday.
The 1.2 million acre Galana Irrigation Scheme at the Coast is the flagship project for improving food security and increasing production of maize and sugar.
President Kenyatta said the government would target a seven per cent GDP growth in the next few years, and double digit growth by 2018.
The Kenya Rising meeting was called by the Treasury and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to discuss prospects and challenges for Kenya’s economy.
Mr Kenyatta said the economy was strong, with great potential for expansion, adding that lessons would be drawn from newly industrialised nations such as Singapore.
He said the economy would be rebalanced through strengthening of traditional sectors and enhancing the growth of new sectors.
“That is why we are presently engaged in discourse over agriculture and tourism, while at the same time pursuing manufacturing and telecommunications. We want to make Kenya Africa’s gateway, manufacturing and technology hub and a home to millions of entrepreneurs,” said Mr Kenyatta.
Business leaders said an economic growth of seven to 10 per cent was achievable given that the country was on that growth path before the 2008 post-election violence.
“I am sure we will hit seven per cent soon and also reach double digits growth afterwards,” said Michael Waweru, former Kenya Revenue Authority commissioner-general and chairman of financial services firm Alexander Forbes, on the sidelines of the conference.
“I certainly see us getting back to that kind of strong economic growth. We were on the way to that growth in 2008. So it is not difficult to get to seven and even 10 per cent,” said Jimnah Mbaru, chairman of Dyer & Blair Investment Bank.
In the decade to 2012, Kenya grew by 4.6 per cent against sub-Saharan Africa’s average of six per cent, and reduced poverty from 52 per cent to 46 per cent.
IMF Africa director Antoinette Sayeh said Kenya’s home-grown economic reforms had yielded fruit and set the country as a model in Africa.