The current pain is not only due to Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic

A shopper at a Samrat supermarket in Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

The government has told anyone willing to listen that the current economic crisis stems from the war in Ukraine and the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic’s supply chain disruptions.

Industrial fair. A significant part of the inflationary pressures being felt around the world stems from these twin shocks. In this sense, Kenya is not unique.

However, different countries have different experiences of inflation. In many ways, the twin shocks have exposed countries whose economies have been struggling.

Unfortunately, ours is one of those affected in this way. We borrowed beyond our means.

We have killed many domestic private companies through burdensome taxation and regulation, choosing instead to kneel at the feet of increasingly elusive foreign investors.

And we like to continue to operate as an economy in the so-called periphery, which supplies little more than raw materials for the world market. Kenyans are injured.

This can be seen both in price stickers in supermarkets and in the increase in criminal activities among desperate unemployed young people.

After the elections, the next government is unemployed. You have to stabilize our debt situation (with a high risk of default).

They also need to decartelize large parts of the economy so that we can grow out of some of the debt.

And above all, they must seriously think through a transformative reorientation of our economy to improve productivity in all sectors and increase our people’s share of stable employment.

This is before they even think about sectors like agriculture, education, health and water, which the Jubilee administration essentially ran aground in the last decade’s “deals” binge.

Regardless of who wins in August, the political elite, in their habit of playing games with Kenyan life, are quickly running out of runways.

They have only two choices: either they reform the economy on their own terms, or history will soon marginalize them.

The author is an assistant professor at Georgetown University

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