Kenya smallholder tea farmers earn Sh63.6 billion from tea exports
Challenges that face President Uhuru Kenyatta cabinet
Written by Today Financial News Friday, 26 April 2013 04:07
By TF News Team
During his last speech before he handed instruments of power to President Uhuru Kenyatta early this month, former President Mwai Kibaki said the country was ready for an economic take-off and that burden falls squarely on the president and his deputy William Ruto.
And the ‘able duo’ according to Kibaki has picked some of the best brains in the country to serve as cabinet secretaries and take the country to the envisaged middle income state by 2030. Parliament is expected to vet and endorse them in the coming week.
However, the leaders face a daunting task in achieving this dream and they will count on every Kenyan to meet the aspirations. Each of them faces unique challenges that can be summarized as follows.
Mr Henry Rotich :( National Treasury). Though he enjoys the benefit of being an insider having being the head of microeconomic department at Treasury, Mr Rotich faces the challenge of containing the ballooning wage bill and the accumulating public debt now in excess of Sh1.5 trillion.
Mr James Macharia (Health): The banker cum management guru faces a big task of getting medicine to treat the sick health delivery system. His immediate task is to ensure that mothers seeking maternity services in public health facilities get free treatment. This must be done within the next 100 days as promised by the president during the political campaigns. He also faces restless workers who are demanding better working conditions and better pay. He has also the discredited National Insurance Fund (NHIF) to contend with.
Ms Amina Mohammed (Foreign Affairs): The secretary is an accomplished diplomat who was until early this month was seeking to succeed Mr Pascal Lammy as director general of the World Trade Organisation. Her desire was to tackle the controversy-prone multilateral trade system but now she will be satisfied with defending her president and deputy president against claims that they participated in 2007/2008 post-election violence that landed them at the International Criminal Court (ICC). It will be worse for her if the two decides not to cooperate with The Hague-based court.
Fred Matiang’I (ICT): The immediate task for the scholar turned technocrat is to ensure that children entering standard one next year get solar-power laptops as pledged by the president during the campaigns. He also inherits the Greenfield Konza city project that promise to revolutionalise ICT in the country. Will he do better than his predecessor Samuel Phogishio?
Mr Adan Mohamed (Industrialisation and Enterprise Development): The banker who is leaving a plum job as chief executive officer at Barclays Bank Kenya faces an uphill task to revatilise the underperforming manufacturing sector. He also faces a challenge in building the informal sector to create better jobs. It will be interesting to see how he do that and more so how does he deal with the small and medium enterprise that many banks have declined to give credit.
Ms Ann Waiguru (Devolution and Planning) faces a challenge of maintaining a working relationship between the county and central governments. Already, there is friction between the county governors who head country governments and country commissioners who represent the central government at the county level.
Mr David Chirchir (Energy and Petroleum) might have witnessed the turnaround of several state-owned enterprises but the energy sector remains a big challenge and mainly to the industrialisation. Immediately after he was nominated to the portfolio, he admitted that Kenyan industries cannot compete with other global chains under the existing high energy costs regime. What does he do about it? Time will tell.
“Within the first one hundred days, we will put measures in place to ensure that all students, joining class one next year, within the public school system receive a laptop. We made a promise to our children and we will keep it because we believe that early exposure to technology will inspire future innovation and be a catalyst for growth and prosperity.”-President Uhuru Kenyatta
Ms Rachael Omamo (Defence): Though her nomination to the senior position surprised many, the nominee, the senior counsel seems to have the least challenge among the appointees. She will ride on the superb performance of the Kenya Defence Forces who were instrument in restoring order in war-torn Somalia. Her greatest challenge will be to maintain that status and also ensure the forces are well equipped to handle any external aggression.
Eng Michael Kamau (Transport and Infrastructure): Mr Kamau is lucky to have been elevated from permanent secretary in the defunct Roads ministry under President Kibaki to a cabinet secretary in the enlarged portfolio. To him, it will be business as usual. His was a reward for performance and Kenyans can be assured that the on-going road projects across the country will not stall. His relationship with the donors in the sector is good and it can only get better that now he has more clout to pursue his dream of better infrastructure. However, he must be wary of matatu operators that thrive on chaos. He must bring down road carnage that claims over 3,000 lives annually.
Ms Philis Kandie (EAC, Commerce and Tourism): EAC integration process that has entered the second decade will remain a challenge. All partner states are yet to amend their domestic laws that would give life to the common market protocol that will allow free movement of all factors of production including labour. In commerce, the biggest challenge is diversifying the narrow export basket that consists mainly of raw materials like tea, coffee and flowers. Insecurity especially in the coast region coupled with piracy in the Indian Ocean around Somalia coastline poses big challenges to tourists’ numbers that Jubilee government want to increase to seven million by 2017. Currently the number stand at slightly over one million.
Prof Jacob Kaimenyi (Education): The medic is not new to educational issues having served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Nairobi but education issues have at times become messy. Top on the agenda is how to please the 270,000 plus teaching staff that are already threatening to down their tools demanding better pay. Parents and other stakeholders are also asking for quality education across board.
Mr Felix Kosgey (Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries): Perhaps this is the biggest and most crucial docket that hold key to poverty alleviation. The new chief faces the challenge of increasing productivity, add value to the products as well seek market both local and foreign for agricultural products. He also faces challenges of farm subsidies and especially fertilizers targeting smallholder farms but end up in the hands of the big commercial farmers.
Prof Judi Wakhungu (Environment, Water and Natural Resoures): Access to clean drinking water is a big challenge that can keep the secretary busy throughout her five years in office. However she also has issues of climate change and depleted forests to worry about. She definitely requires the spirit of the late John Michuki who never allowed any obstacle to stand on his way in issues environment.
Dr Hassan Wario (Sports, Culture and Arts): The youthful secretary has the youth to deal with. They require jobs and his docket promises to provide them in large numbers. However, he will rely on National Treasury to provide the much needed money to build the five stadia promised during the electioneering period.