Why time is ripe to re-cast Vision 2030

Ideas & Debate

Why time is ripe to re-cast Vision 2030

A road under construction
A road under construction. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The security vision envisaged “a nation of peace and stability (and) a society free of danger and fear”. The country would become “a top ten long-haul tourist destination in the world…offering a high-value, diverse and distinctive visitor experience” and “the top BPO offshoring destination in Africa”. The public service would be “citizen-focused and results-oriented” located in “a value-driven, ethical, peaceful, united and prosperous nation”, and served by a democratic political system that was “people-centred, results-oriented and accountable”.

The vision further targeted “decent and gainful employment for every Kenyan” within “a just, equitable, civically engaged open society without extreme poverty”. The livelihoods of women, youth and vulnerable groups would be enhanced through “equity in access, control and participation in resource distribution”. On culture, sports and the arts, the vision was to “celebrate the best in us”. Electoral politics would be “genuinely competitive and issue-based”, while governance would be guided by “adherence to the rule of law applicable to a modern, market-based economy in a human rights-respecting state”.

Under this vision, ICT would be “leveraged for increased competitiveness” while STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) would “accelerate the transition to an innovation-led and knowledge based economy”. “World class infrastructure facilities and services” would be deployed, and land management would be “globally competitive and sustainable”. Better planning would lead to “an end to drought emergencies and food insecurity”.

Agriculture would be “innovative, commercially-oriented and modern”, manufacturing would be “robust, diversified and competitive” and wholesale and retail trade would transform into “a formal sector that is efficient, multi-tiered, diversified in product range, and innovative”. Further envisaged was “a vibrant and globally competitive financial sector driving high level of savings to finance the country’s investment and economic growth needs”. Oil and mineral resources, and the blue economy, would be “sustainably developed and managed for citizen benefit”.

Finally, the vision sought out “a globally competitive quality education, training and research for sustainable development”, “equitable, quality and affordable health care of the highest standard”, “water and sanitation availability and access for all in a clean, secure and sustainable environment with adequate and decent housing”. The country would be “free of HIV infection, Stigma and AIDS-related deaths “, “acting towards a low carbon and climate resilient development” and working within “an integrated and coordinated disaster risk management system”. But what is this all about?


In less than 400 words, that’s a summary of the hundreds of pages on Kenya Vision 2030, and its “sub-renditions” through three Medium-Term Plans (MTPs); the current “Big Four” one running from 2018 to 2022. Yes, that’s our vision to create “a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life by 2030” by moving up the economic value chain, investing in people and growing as one nation.

It’s now 2020, which means we’re 12 years into a vision launched in 2008, with ten years to go. In this “lost year”, is it worth reflecting on where we are today? Here are some quick thoughts.

A couple of years back, it was reported in the press that the vision is five years behind schedule, with official quotes to the effect that performance at the time was anywhere between 40 and 60 percent of plan and 2020 would be a great time to perform a mid-term review of the overall “big picture” vision.

Admittedly, shorter-term reviews have happened; and between Annual Progress Reports and MTP Mid-Term Reviews, it is possible to establish a few progress highlights. In the first (2008-2012) MTP period, progress was recorded in education enrolment and transition, roads construction (2,200 kilometres), fibre optic networking and increased electricity generation capacity (by 22 percent). Passage of the 2010 constitution was also deemed to be a Vision 2030 achievement (not the other way around?)

For the second (2013-2017) MTP, reported progress includes the SGR (Phase 1), roads construction and rehabilitation (3,250, not 10,000 kilometres), increased electricity generation capacity (by 32 percent), electricity consumer connections (by 185 percent), safe drinking water access (by seven percent), agriculture under irrigation (by 36 percent), birth deliveries by skilled attendants (by 19 percent) and lower maternal mortality (by 26 percent). Effecting devolution is also viewed as a Vision 2030 success.

Let’s return to the earlier statements, and contextualise them with five short questions. First, are we really happy with this picture of progress? Second, what does the fallout on account of Covid-19 portend for the future? Third, isn’t this the right time to move to “bottom-up” visions, by counties?

Remember, counties represent a specific spatial context within which socio-economic development takes place; they allow Kenya to stop the terrible practice for planning for sectors “in the air”. Fourth, from the “bottom-up”, isn’t this also the time to get to visions and performance metrics that reflect outputs and goal-seeking outcomes for people, not inputs and completed activities and projects?

Shouldn’t our “flowery” visions more widely translate into results for the people? In today’s unhealthy Covid-19 times, that “big picture” Vision 2030 Mid-Term Review may be just what the doctor ordered.

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