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Economy

Kenya lags Tanzania, and South Africa in bridging income gap

vegetable trader in Kibera slum
A vegetable trader in Kibera slum. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya is slow in taking steps to cut income gaps among its population, a report published on Monday by global aid charity Oxfam states, putting a blot on the country's stated ambition of providing all its citizens with high quality life in the next 10 years

According to the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index developed by Oxfam — which ranks countries according to their progress in reducing inequality — Kenya ranks 19 behind South Africa (1) and Tanzania (18) but ahead of Uganda (32), Ethiopia (33) and Rwanda (34).

“ … In Kenya, a boy from a rich family has a one-in-three chance of continuing his studies beyond secondary school,” says the report’s findings. “A girl from a poor family has a 1-in 250 chance of doing so.”

The index ranks countries on their policies on social spending, tax, and labour rights.

Under Vision 2030, Kenya has sought to to create "a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life".

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The Oxfam report noted that inequality slows economic growth, undermines the fight against poverty and increases social tensions.

The report corroborates past surveys which have assessed Kenya to be an “unequal” society.

Kenya’s economy expanded at the fastest rate in eight years last year, largely on increased agricultural production.

Kenya has also recently witnessed a sharp increase in the population of the super-rich.

But this has come even as millions of Kenyans wallow in abject poverty — pointing to a widening rift of inequality in the country.

Kenya’s higher rate of minting multibillionaires is particularly puzzling given the hard economic times the country has experienced in the past three years and the resulting fall in corporate profits that has seen thousands of people lose their jobs.

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