On June 3,2018, Kenya made history after President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the first trucks carrying crude oil from Turkana oil field to Mombasa for storage in tanks awaiting exportation. This prepares Kenya to be one of the oil producing countries in the world as very soon the oil will be accumulated enough and will be ready for export.
As the trucks run from the Upper Rift arid region down the Rift Valley through Nairobi, Eastern and finally the coast region, it carries the hope of all Kenyans as many see it as a big step towards making Kenya develop for the better.
The local government has already struck a deal with the national government on revenue sharing as it will take 20 per cent of the revenue, the local community will take five per cent while 75 per cent will go to the national government.
Oil producing countries all over the world have benefited or suffered from this valuable resource depending on how its revenue was managed.
For instance, the United Arab Emirates(UAE) discovered oil in the 70s and what followed thereafter is an example to the whole world on how a well-managed oil revenue can spur a country’s economic growth at a crazy speed.
Before oil was discovered in UAE, the locals survived by breeding camels, cultivating dates and trading with the European countries across the sea. However, profits from oil exports enabled the country to develop modern infrastructure in terms of high quality roads network, international airports and seaports.
Huge investments have also been made in the construction, trade and tourism sectors thereby attracting tourists, investors and foreign labour force from all over the world.
The standards of living in Dubai is now one of the best in the world as a result. Some countries have not managed their oil business properly therefore resulting in constant conflicts, ethnic tension and power struggle. Take an example of Sudan, a country that has massive oil reserves but conflict and war has made it difficult for the country to realize its economic potential with the asset they are sitting on.
Once a win-win position is not achieved the aggrieved party will try to use other forceful means that in most cases will result to political and economic instability and therefore a loss-loss situation.
Kenya is in a good position to benefit immensely from its oil and generate big profits to help drive the country’s vision 2030 dream. If well utilised, the resources will go a long way towards financing reforms and development in the sectors envisioned in the dream. The valuable resource can also be used to open up Turkana region for development, a region that has largely been forgotten for ages.
Indeed, the oil discovery has come at the right time to transform Kenya for the better and enhance the living standards of all its citizens in the 47 counties.
Renson Kitur, via email