If we just worked a bit harder, a bit more diligently we can start realizing our dream of growing the economy by double digits.

First here is where we are now: Kenya’s GDP was $40.70 billion (2012, World Bank), or Shs 3,540,900,000,000. That is not as much money as it might sound. Divided over 20 million working Kenyans it comes to just about Shs 177,000 of earned money per person in one year or Shs 567 per day. If we chucked out the big players such as Safaricom, Banks and other the big earners, the average contribution per person would come to under Shs 100 per day!

The truth therefore is that only a few people (estimated at 20%) in Kenya contribute to the GDP; the majority are subsidized by someone — family; government subsidy; bursaries; theft/corruption. The subsidies have introduced interesting new words into our languages: mwolyo in ukambani, derived from the queue that people make to receive free food; napeikopo among the Turkana, named after the measuring can that donors use to dish out free food; please call me; serkal isaidie; diaspora remittances.


20% of our people support 80%

Yes! 20% of our people support 80% — to keep a dairy cow at Shs 300 per day and harvest milk worth 100; to grow mukohoro maize at Shs 10 each and sell it for Shs 7 in the market; those who raise cows in a pastoralist community only to have them wiped out by drought; those who spend Shs 72,000 to plant an acre of sugarcane only to sell the lot for Shs 40,000 two years down the line.

Creating additional value to raise our GDP need note be a significant challenge, effort-wise. For example, in 2013/2013 Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture reported a “bumper” maize harvest of 3.6 million metric tons (40 million 90kg bags. According to other research, doubling our maize production only requires that we test our soils and ensure use of adequate amounts of the big three nutrients: phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium. Thus if we focused on just that one priority for one year, an additional yield of 40 million 90 kg bags of maize would generate a cash value of about 120 billion, occasioning a GDP growth by over 3% — from 5% to 8%.

In the dairy sector, to raise the production of a typical dairy cow in Kenya from 3 litres per day to over 10, the point at which it should achieve break even point, the only requirement is that the concentrates in use contain the right levels of the required nutrition. In practical terms that might involve a county simply checking (through random sampling and testing) to ensure that the dairy meal on sale in the county contains the 16.8% protein content that KEBS requires to be in the feed, a rule that nearly all feed suppliers flout brazenly. If only we checked, we would more than double our milk production, making another major step towards growing our economy in double digits…