The results of the 2019 population census show Kenya’s demographic indicators have changed significantly in the last 10 years.
From a total population of 38.6 million reported in 1999, nine million more Kenyans have joined the official records, representing an increase of 23.3 percent over the period.
Over the same period, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has expanded almost seven times, from Sh1.29 trillion to Sh8.9 trillion without the living conditions of ordinary Kenyans really getting improved.
It’s worth noting that the expansion of the economy 6.9 times over the 10-year period also includes the 2014 GDP rebasing, which raised the size of our national wealth by 25.3 percent without having citizens break sweat for it.
But new numbers are here all the same, and economic planning as well as the distribution of the national cake, must henceforth reflect our demographic diversity.
First, since the State spends for the benefit of its people, allocation of resources to the 47 counties must be revised to reflect the population reality.
Granted, the Commission for Revenue Allocation has over the years reduced the weight of population in its revenue allocation formula from 40 to 18 percent so as to accommodate parameters such the county’s poverty level, land area, fiscal effort and fiscal effort.
But population still remains a major factor and accurate figures must be used to update subsequent resource allocation. Moreover, the official figures show that some counties have experienced an alarmingly high levels of population growth than others.
The reality however is that while Nairobi, Nakuru, Kakamega, Bungoma, Kilifi and Machakos rank high in population density, attention should not shift away from poor units such as Mandera with the highest average household size of 6.9.
Second, the numbers released Monday show that 50.4 percent of the total population are female, a reality that must keep the country talking given the low number of women at key decision making organs of public and private sectors.
Thirdly, the numbers confirm an all familiar trend that Kenya is demographically young, and as such, policy mandarins must work even harder to find better ways of engaging this active age group.