Wealthy Kenyans more trusting of the government, says survey


National Treasury and Economic Planning Cabinet Secretary, Prof Njuguna Ndung'u during a past function on January 11, 2023. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Twenty percent of Kenyans do not believe their economic conditions will improve in the next five years, findings of a new survey that also found that wealthy Kenyans are more trusting of the government shows.

The 2023 report by Edelman Trust Barometer shows an increase in the level of economic pessimism among Kenyans from 10 percent last year.

This is the largest fall in the level of economic confidence in the world, the survey reveals.

Economic pessimism appears to be on the rise, with citizens in 24 out of 28 countries surveyed reporting an all-time lowest level of confidence in their financial circumstances.

At the World Economic Forum happening in Davos this week, leading economists have predicted a global economic recession this year.

Last week, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung’u asked Kenyans to brace for tough economic times ahead, noting that the country’s financial crisis will continue to deteriorate in the foreseeable future.

“From all the things we have analysed, the outlook of 2023 is not looking very good, there are clear signals that it is going to be a tough year,” Prof Njuguna warned.

With Kenya’s public debt currently standing at Sh8.7 billion, the government is turning locally to raise revenue as it seeks to curb its loan appetite.

President William Ruto has said the government intends to raise an additional Sh1 trillion in taxes in the next two years, a move that will push the cost of basic commodities such as food, fuel and housing up in the coming days.

This comes amid revelation from Ruto that it will take time for the country’s economy to stabilise and the price of essential goods to come down.

The survey has also shown disparities in the level of trust for institutions between the rich and the poor in Kenya.

Wealthy Kenyans are more trusting of the government, the media and business at 70 percent, compared to only 63 percent of poor Kenyans.

Interestingly, Kenyans trust corporates more than they trust the government at 71 and 43 percent respectively.

Trust in business among Kenyans is also one of the highest in the world.

In Africa, South Africans trust their government the least at only 22 percent.

Whereas the majority of Kenyans trust leading corporates, this is not the case with top CEOs, with a 48 percent distrust level.

Five months after the last General Elections, Kenyans are still polarised, with two in five saying the country is more polarised now than ever.

Ruto won the 2022 presidential election with 50.49 percent of the vote ahead of his closest challenger Raila Odinga, who garnered 48.85 percent, splitting the country down the middle.

Economic anxieties, institutional imbalance and mass class divide are cited in the report as the key drivers of polarisation in Kenya and in the world.

There were 1150 participants from Kenya in the survey that involved 28 countries. Besides Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria were the other African countries surveyed.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.