Infrastructure a critical public policy issue that faces the kenyan nation today


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Infrastructure a critical public policy issue that faces the kenyan nation today

  1. 1. INFRASTRUCTURE: A CRITICAL PUBLIC POLICY ISSUE THAT FACES THE KENYAN NATION TODAY. By Beatrice Adera Amollo, January, 2013 INTRODUCTION A policy has been defined as “the translation of a government’s political priorities and principles into programs, projects and actions to deliver desired changes within a given time frame” (Comptroller and Audit General UK, 2001 cited in Kibua & Oyugi, 2007). Schuster (2008), states that public policy is embodied in constitutions, legislative acts, and judicial decisions. In Kenya, public policies are part of the Ministry of Planning and National Development and Vision 2030’s core functions since it gives broad policy direction through coordination and writing of district development plans, national development plans and sessional papers. Both the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR), an independent private organization and the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) which is an autonomous public institute conduct policy analysis and research, and training; and shares with or advises the government, its development partners, private sector, and civil society, for the attainment of the national development goals. THE CRITICAL ISSUES FOR KENYA The critical issues or challenges with public policies in Kenya are not only the issues they address, but also found at the formulation and implementation stages of the policies. Some of Kenya’s major public and national concerns are highlighted in the Vision 2030, a development programme comprising of three key pillars – economic, social and political – to be tackled in the period 2008 to 2030. Vision 2030 may be considered to be a public policy that was developed through an all-inclusive and participatory stakeholder consultative process. It bases its three pillars on seven (7) major national developmental concerns. These are:- 1. Macro-economic stability 4. Land Reform 2. Infrastructure 5. Human Resources Development 3. Science, Technology and Innovation 6. Security (STI) 7. Public sector reformINFRASTRUCTUREIn this paper, the author focuses on infrastructure as one of the most critical issues facing Kenya since it impactson its social and economic progress. The need for infrastructure development to lure private investment and spur 1
  2. 2. economic growth has been noted in most of Kenya’s development policies. Infrastructure serves as a strategicfoundation for economic transformation in general and the application of technology to development in particular.The term infrastructure has been defined in the Encyclopædia Britannica as “A collective term for the subordinateparts of an undertaking; a substructure, foundation” (infrastructure, 2013a). It is “the basic physical andorganizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a societyor enterprise” (infrastructure, 2013b). Economic and social infrastructure plays a vital role in the developmentprocess and it includes roads, electricity and water supply, sanitation systems, irrigation, schools, hospitals,clinics, airports, and telecommunications (Hope, 2010). To achieve a credible level of industrialization, Kenyarequires substantial overhaul of its current infrastructure. There are gaps in all the above listed forms ofinfrastructure and the needs are broad based.Kenya’s poor infrastructure is a major impediment to the achievement of Vision 2030 and the MillenniumDevelopment Goals (MDGs). The current infrastructure investment levels are far below those required andresulted in low investment levels in the country. For instance, the issue of electricity has adversely affectedgrowth in the industrial and entrepreneurial sectors. The frequent power outages in the country have becomefrequent and go for so long. Formal and informal businesses, government offices, private residences and all otherswho can afford it have had to invest in generators as a fundamental necessity of daily functioning (Hope, 2010).Some prevailing challenges in Kenya’s power sub-sector include:- the continued operation of very expensiveemergency diesel power generation; the over-dependence on hydropower which severely constrains electricpower generation during droughts; limited availability of long-term financing to the power utilities; vandalismand theft of transformers and power cables; the escalating cost of capital-intensive generation projects; and thescattered and sparsely populated rural areas, among others (Hope, 2010). To address these challenges broughtabout by the power crisis in Kenya, it must become an added priority of the government. There is need for carefulassessment and considerations for the use of a variety of power generation technologies which include renewableenergy. For a long term solution, all the stakeholders in the public and private sector must be involved in thepolicy formulation and implementation.In relation to the infrastructure challenge and in seeking long lasting solutions within an effective policy, there isneed to address issues concerning the protection and conservation of the environment for the benefit of futuregenerations and the wider international community and the need to cultivate a social attitude of respect and carefor public infrastructure facilities and services among all citizens (Hope, 2010). The latter, if achieved will ensurepreservation which will result in a major and permanent shift in individual and societal attitudes and behaviors.The power issue cannot be tackled all at once; it takes time and cooperation from all citizens. There is need for aclear and articulate policy based on “System approaches” as articulated by Ozga (2005) which will ensureunderstanding and cooperation from the masses.Other infrastructural considerations that the country should address include:- 2
  3. 3. The Port: According to Hope (2010), the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), which has responsibility for the management and administration of the port needs to invest in improvement in the facilities of the current container terminal. The performance of the port of Mombasa has been an issue of public interest for a long time. There are ongoing attempts at establishing another port in Lamu (Kenya Vision 2030, 2013). Schools and hospitals: There are still a large number of Kenyans who cannot access or afford these basic services. Water supply: Some parts of the country, especially rural areas do not have access to clean or tap water despite the government’s efforts over the last 10 or so years.It is one thing to have the right policies and another to be able to afford their implementation. Kenya’sinfrastructure funding gap will need to be addressed. Without funding, the plans will stall. An example of thegovernment’s efforts is the issuance of infrastructure bonds by the government has proven to be very an attractivemethod of fund raising for infrastructure development. Other sources of investment capital could be mobilizedand done to attract private investment and Private Public Partnerships (PPP), in particular private participation ininfrastructure (PPI).FORMULATION AND IMPLEMENTATIONKibua & Oyugi (2007) and others outline some of the challenges at the formulation and implementation stagesof policy making in Kenya. These include:-Acceptability: Researchers from the two public and private institutions need to package their findings in alanguage and format that can easily be understood by, and accessible and acceptable to policy-makers.Policy reversals: Kibua & Oyugi (2007) observe that the government policies are often ambiguous and subject toreversals.Collaboration with peers: There is minimal collaboration among the research and policy institutes, despite thefact that they may be financed by similar institutions.Research and policy implications– theory versus practice: Ideally, research institutions are supposed togenerate intellectual capital, which becomes a critical input in the policy-making process. In theory, the issue ofwhat constitutes intellectual capital and the technological process of feeding it into the policy production processremains basically unresolved.Monitoring: The Ministry of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, has not been able to settargets for most of the indicators in the gender monitoring framework like for the other monitoring frameworks.This belies a gap in monitoring in the implementation of policies. (Government of the Republic of Kenya, 2009). 3
  4. 4. CONCLUSIONMuch attention and effort must be given by the Kenyan authorities to infrastructure development to allow thepublic and private sectors to implement policies successfully and deliver goods and services for poverty reductionand sustainable development. It is evident that the government is gradually moving away from the one-way streetof inadequate and poorly performing infrastructure towards the two-way street along which economic growth anddevelopment encourages demand for infrastructure, and infrastructure generates economic growth anddevelopment. Thus, the need for practical and affordable infrastructure policies that will not only be perceived astop-down, but down-top and all encompassing. 4
  5. 5. REFERENCESGovernment of the Republic of Kenya. (2009). National reporting framework of indicators: The Vision 2030 first medium-term plan. Nairobi, Kenya: Ministry of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030.Kibua, T.N. & Oyugi, L.N. (2007). Influencing development policies through research: The Kenyan experience. In Ayuk, E. T. & Marouani, M. A. (Eds). (2007). Policy paradox in Africa: Strengthening links between economic research and policymaking (pp. 239 - 261). Ottawa, Canada: IDRC Books. Retrieved from, Sr, K. R. (2010) Infrastructure constraints and development in Kenya : An analytical review. Journal of Infrastructure Development, 2(2). 91–104. DOI: 10.1177/097493061100200201infrastructure. (2013a). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from (2013b). In Oxford University Press. Retrieved from Vision 2030. (2013). Development of Dongo Kundu FreePort. Available from, J (2005). Models of policy-making and policy learning. Paper for Seminar on Policy Learning in 14-19 Education. Joint seminar of Education and Youth Transitions Project and Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education, 15 March 2005. University of Edinburgh: Centre for Educational Sociology. Retrieved from II, M. W. (2008). For the greater good: The use of public policy considerations in confirming chapter 11 plans of reorganization. Houston Law Review. 46, 467. 5