Leadership sets the pace for economic growth


Eunice Awuor at work in Kibuye market, Kisumu County. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Who is your favorite political leader of all time? Many would say Nelson Mandela because he lifted South Africa out of the shackles of apartheid. Interestingly, South Africa is not as united as it was when Mandela was president.

Today, Julius Malema, once the youth leader of the African National Congress, leads the Economic Freedom Party. He is one of the most vocal critics of the ANC government. Does this mean that the foundations built by Mandela were not strong enough? The jury is still out.

For me, Mandela was a great leader for his single season. He assumed the presidency at a time when reconciliation was one of South Africa’s deepest needs. This need could not be satisfied by bravado. He had to bring out the diplomat in him, which might seem weak to some. However, Mandela was not pushed around. He was resolved.

His five years of presidency, from 1994 to 1999, were characterized by strong economic growth. He took firm decisions like the rejection of nationalization, the official policy of his party. He also used his famous diplomacy to increase business opportunities for South Africa.

Good leadership often depends on a firm resolve and commitment to values. Although millions admired the late Tanzanian President John Magufuli, others found his style of leadership authoritarian.

However, the best way to judge leaders is to question their results. As Jesus said about his disciples, you will know them by their fruits. In May 2016, six months after Magufuli took office, he secured victory for the commercial capital Dar es Salaam. He launched the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system which instantly transformed Dar es Salaam into one of the few African cities with an efficient public transport system. It continued its efforts, including streamlining the delivery of public services and eliminating corruption. He achieved this through his legendary business leadership style.

History will best judge President Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership style. In fact, Kenya’s economy is in its best shape. In 2021, Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 5%, making our country one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. We are the sixth strongest economy in Africa, behind Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. In sub-Saharan Africa, we are the third strongest economy.

Egypt and Algeria have been led by strong and pragmatic presidents for at least two decades. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was president from 1981 to 2011. In Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika ruled from 1999 to 2019. Coming back to Kenya, the evidence is clear that our economy is doing well even if many people are not feeling it yet the profits, the political overtones notwithstanding.

Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya has an answer: “Kenya’s economy has shown considerable resilience in the face of the enormous shock of the pandemic, and this year is expected to show one of the strongest growth areas in the region thanks to diversified sources of growth. and sound economic policies.

Sound economic policies and management were led by President Kenyatta. There is of course room for improvement, particularly in terms of job creation and poverty reduction. This will require strong and decisive leadership at all levels. As President, I did nothing but urge President Kenyatta to set up the National Council on Climate Change for Kenya to strategically face the future with confidence. Think green, act green!

-The writer is the founder of Green Africa Foundation. www.kaluagreen.com


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