Despite making economic progress, Kenya’s uneven development and regional disparities have been cited as a major challenge to growth.
“There is a big disparity between the rich and the poor and there is uneven development,” noted Said Adejumobi, the co-ordinator of the African Governance Report at the UN Economic Commission for Africa. “There needs to be deliberate efforts to increase transfer of wealth to the poor.”
Prof Adejumobi said Kenya’s economy has been doing well despite challenges such as droughts, rising fuel costs and foreign exchange fluctuations.
The disparity is one of the key issues the public have been raising through the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which is holding sittings across the country.
“Our team has been impressed by what we have seen in various regions,” he said. “There is a lot of development going on.”
The regional disparities exist in terms of infrastructure and basic services such as water, health, education, electricity, and access to government services.
Inequalities are also found in economic production where some regions are large producers while others are far below par. The sittings are part of Kenya’s second review under the APRM, which is a voluntary organisation made up of 30 African countries.
Kenya’s first review was conducted in 2005 to 2006 by a team headed by Graca Marchel, the wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela.
The review, which is done after four or five years includes a self-assessment report followed by the review mission, which goes to the grassroots to collect views from the public.
According former Liberian president Amos Sawyer, the lead panelist for Kenya’s APRM mission, the team is composed of economic, legal, and constitutional experts from various African countries.
Prof Sawyer said members of the public have expressed concern over marginalisation.
Other issues being raised include youth unemployment, gender imbalance, food security and hurdles in implementing the new Constitution. After the sittings, a report will be presented to the government to address the issues raised.