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By Sarah Quarmby

There’s widespread and sustained interest in the role of evidence in policymaking. But because policymaking is inherently messy and complex, there’s no catch-all way of making sure evidence gets used. In this context, “knowledge brokers” are increasingly being recognised as a potential way to improve evidence-informed policymaking.

Knowledge brokers are individuals or organisations that bridge the gap between academic research and policymaking. They work to make sure that useful evidence arrives with the right people, in an appropriate format, at an opportune moment. Successful knowledge brokerage is based on building trusting relationships. This requires an intimate knowledge of both academia and policymaking, including their respective values, norms, and incentives. There’s a limited evidence base about knowledge brokers, but preliminary findings suggest that they do have the potential to improve the uptake of evidence.

How does knowledge brokerage work in practice?

For the last six months, I have been working as a Research Assistant at the Wales Centre for Public Policy, an independent research centre based at Cardiff University. The Centre opened in October 2017, building and expanding upon the work of its predecessor, the Public Policy Institute for Wales, and is a member of the UK-wide network of What Works Centres. We work closely with Welsh Government Ministers and public service leaders to help them identify their evidence needs and then facilitate the provision of evidence. In practice, this means guiding a series of projects, each relating to different policy or public service topics, from the initial ideas stage to delivering a final product.

To take the example of the Welsh Government side of our work, projects usually begin by meeting up with Ministers, their special advisors and/or policy officials (under the auspices of the Cabinet Office) to discuss potential areas of work. When we have agreed the kind of evidence they would find useful, we conduct a short review into what’s already known about the topic. From here we can decide whether to do the research in-house, or to commission it out to an external expert. If we’re outsourcing the project, we identify the most appropriate experts and liaise with them to see if they would be interested in working with us.

Each project is different, but our work often involves facilitating and managing relationships between the experts and the Welsh Government, as well as ensuring effective communication so that the final product meets expectations. The form that the evidence produced takes depends on the specifics of each project. It may be a report (for example, see here), an eventworkshop, or simply a series of structured conversations between the expert and the Welsh Government.

In this way, we navigate the space between academic researchers and policymakers, who have long been thought of as separate communities. Nathan Caplan’s “Two-Communities” theory is still a useful tool for thinking about how to bridge the gap between academic research and policymaking. He suggests that the research and policymaking worlds operate according to such different value systems and timescales that it is as though they were speaking different languages. Policymakers face political pressures and public scrutiny, and are looking for timely, practical input into policy matters, whereas academics are more interested in longer-term, theory-driven research and are under pressure to publish in academic journals. Caplan pointed to the need for intermediaries who are sympathetic towards both cultures and can mediate to best effect.

Why it is important

Our work at the Centre puts into practice some of the latest research on encouraging evidence use in policymaking. A recent study from the Alliance for Useful Evidence looked at what can be done to put policymakers in a position where they are both able and motivated to make use of evidence, and identified six “mechanisms” to improve evidence uptake. Our approach focuses on four of these: fostering mutual understanding of evidence needs and policy questions, facilitating communication and access to evidence, facilitating interaction between decision-makers and researchers, and building the skillset required to engage with research.

Indeed, the way we operate is informed by a wide range of academic literature on policymaking. For example, we’re currently exploring alternative approaches to presenting evidence. Research suggests that policy-makers often respond to narratives and case studies which show how policies affect individuals’ every-day lives. Advocates of this line of thinking claim that evidence presented in this way is far more likely to be used. The problem with this approach is that it has implications for the need for academic neutrality and we don’t want to risk compromising the Centre’s impartial status.

Knowledge brokerage is a work in progress, but research suggests that it’s important that the early trial and error approach to facilitating the use of evidence in policymaking doesn’t turn into an unsuitable longer-term strategy. For this reason, we’re refining our ‘theory of change’, i.e. what we want to make happen, how we’re going to do it, and how we’re going to measure whether it’s been done. Further down the line this will allow us to assess whether we have been effective, and what approaches have worked better or worse than others. We know that our model works in our context and have a lot of examples from our work with the Welsh Government to support this. But the challenge is to systematise ways of working and collect clear examples of where and why we have been able to have ‘real-world’ impact.

This article originally appeared on the LSE British Politics and Policy blog

Sarah Quarmby is a Research Assistant at the Wales Centre for Public Policy

Posted On Thursday, 22 November 2018 11:42

By Dinah Wakio

There seems to be a leadership vacuum in the world right now, as partly seen in the lack of a consensus in the protectionism versus globalisation policy dilemma.

While prominent global leaders push the envelope with the trade wars, economists are predicting a potential financial crisis.

Notably, global growth has decelerated gradually compared with its strong historical performance. Some of the reasons given for this slowdown include the recent rise in protectionism, dimming of economic activity, increase in trade wars and tighter credit marked by high interest rates.

PROTECTIONISM

In recent times, protectionism has gained momentum with leaders seeking to protect their nations’ economic interests, mainly by creating trade barriers.

During the 2016 US election campaigns, most Republicans made remarks that showed their bias for protectionism.

Since his election as the 45th US President, Mr Donald Trump has constantly spoken about possible change of the existing foreign and trade policies, claiming they do not favour his country, claims most experts are sceptical about.

In a recent address to the UN General Assembly, Mr Trump noted that his nation was systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals.

REFERENDUM

In 2016, United Kingdom held a referendum and British voters opted out of the European Union. The scheduled exit March 29, next year, might, however, be halted following calls for a second referendum to remain in the EU. Those rethinking Brexit apparently realise that the UK stands to lose economically by going it alone.

In the face of a changing global trade environment, African leaders should step up decision making to secure their economies.

A World Bank report released early this year noted that 18 sub-Saharan African nations are at growing risk of debt distress because of heavy borrowing and gaping deficits. They include Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia.

DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

While some argue that the loans are meant for the much-needed development projects, the sceptics are jittery about the consequences in the event of default.

In March, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a regional body urged African states to join forces and promote the free movement of goods and services.

If all the 55 countries join, it will be one of the world’s largest free-trade areas with $4 trillion in combined consumer and business spending.

African policymakers must prudently craft policies geared toward unlocking their nations’ economic potential while ensuring selfish interests do not hinder the opportunity for growth.

If this does not happen, Africa will continue to be on the edge as major global powers engage in healthy policy debates and impose their ways on us with our leadership failing to develop clear strategies to uplift our people.

Ms Wakio is a communications consultant at P & L Consulting Ltd. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Posted On Friday, 16 November 2018 08:28

By Sally Akinyi

"Seeds are the soul of agriculture’’. This is a statement not far from the truth; these tiny things are the lifeline of the food we consume every day.

However, with the looming climate change, the future of seeds is under siege. The harsh consequence of this reality has been observed through the continued loss of food diversity. In fact, the world has lost 75 per cent of its food biodiversity in the past 100 years.

UNHEALTHY FOODS

Today, in East Africa, local varieties of indigenous foods such as yams, cowpeas and amaranth are not only shrinking, but also rapidly being replaced by unhealthy foods. Smallholders, too, have resorted to cultivating crops that fetch them more income.

821M PEOPLE

The FAO estimates that out of the 821 million people in the world with severe undernourishment, 256 million are in Africa. While indigenous foods have significant potential to alleviate hunger and improve food security and nutrition, their future also grapples with the trend of monopolisation of seeds by global food companies. We must look at the rise of seed multinational firms and their implication on the future. The new shift in the Bayer and Monsanto (now the largest producers of genetically engineered crops) merger signal a boost in agricultural research and innovation. It is expected to spur innovation in the rising demand for food supply globally.

MODERNISATION

Against this backdrop are worried lots. Smallholder farmers, who are the custodians of diversifying food in Sub-Saharan Africa, stand to lose out in the so-called new modernisation of agriculture.

The importance of seed diversity in this new monopoly is considerably a major discourse on the road to eradicating hunger.

The role of seeds is quite significant in improving food production in regions that have borne the brunt of hunger in recent times.

ANCESTRAL SEEDS

The new food giant- Bayer and Monsanto- is to seek approval from regulators in 30 countries. The looming reality of this move brings with it continued patenting of plant varieties, making farmers unable to continue to breed varieties, as has been the norm for many years. Smallholder farmers have been known to exchange knowledge on seeds and pass on indigenous seeds from one generation to another. They are key to retaining seed diversity, which is crucial in preserving ancestral seeds that hold immense nutritional value.

SMALLHOLDER FARMER

As countries like Kenya begin trials on GMO food, it is important that they create a level playing field of all actors in the food system, including smallholder farmers.

New approaches such as Open Source Seeds Systems (OSSS) have the potential to check the dominance of food giants. OSSS is re-defining the role of smallholders in the seed sector by safeguarding their rights.

PLANT BIODIVERSITY

Secondly, countries need to catalogue their indigenous foods in order to preserve knowledge for future generations. In this way, they can retain their plant biodiversity, which is useful in countering food insecurity.

Ms Akinyi is the regional communications officer, Hivos East Africa. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This piece was published by the Daily Nation on 5th November 2018 and on the Hivos website at https://east-africa.hivos.org/blog/10081/

Posted On Tuesday, 06 November 2018 09:40

By Job Wanjohi

When the Government reignited its fight against illicit trade earlier this year, the immediate impact of the raids and arrests carried out reverberated throughout the entire industry. The extent to which these illicit trade networks had infiltrated the market was unearthed, followed by a good amount of public awareness on the dangers posed by counterfeit goods as well as the efforts by the government to ensure the safety and security of all citizens.

A few weeks into the activities, the industry started reporting tangible gains made from this initiative. Sectors such as Edible Oils, Electrical and Electronics, as well as Food and Beverage, have indicated increased market share as a result of the fight against illicit trade, so much so that the sector is now looking to increase their capacity to cater for the growing demand.

The link between illicit trade and the economic performance of a country is undeniable. In June this year, The Economist Intelligence Unit published The Global Illicit Trade Environment Index to measure the ways in which nations are addressing their illicit trade challenges and the extent to which they have prevented the illegal networks from taking root in their economies. The index categorized the performances in four pillars namely, Government Policy, Supply and Demand, Transparency and Trade, and Customs Environment. Although Kenya was not among the 84 countries that informed the survey, the countries that emerged top ten were strong on all the above. Finland for example, which was number one with 85.6 out of 100, was very strong on Government Policy. This means that the country has very effective government policies and structures set up to track and prevent illicit trade. Is it any wonder that Finland finds its competitive edge in manufacturing, which then makes it one of the world’s top economies with a high GDP per capita?

The index attributed the low scores of countries such as Libya, Morocco and Iran to weak law enforcement, corruption that aids the permeation of illicit trade networks through the borders, and lack of automation of critical processes such as customs. There are also other factors such as weak Intellectual Property (IP) protection that discourages investment and hampers innovation in these economies.

These are the critical aspects that we need to be keen on as a country if the war on counterfeits and illicit trade is to be sustained. When we speak of corruption, we should not just view it as actions of individuals or as a point of contact at the borders, for example, we should expand our view to include negligence, lack of enforcement and inspection, or even something as simple as overlooking an overloaded cargo truck. It is a combination of actions that make it possible for counterfeit goods, for instance, to seep into the market.  Hence this would be the topmost hindrance to the sustainability of this fight. If we can tackle corruption then instituting measures to ensure that illicit trade can be prevented will not be a difficult task.

We also need to ensure that once the perpetrators of these crimes are apprehended, the scope of their punishment should bring into perspective their role in economic sabotage and above all, in endangering the lives and safety of citizens. Therefore they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, which will also send a message to all who are involved.

We are on the right track on this issue as a country; we only need to ensure that we don’t lose momentum to the detriment of our economy.

The writer is the Head of Policy, Research and Advocacy at Kenya Association of Manufacturers and can be reached on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Posted On Friday, 26 October 2018 15:05

By Habil Olaka

Over the past two years, the introduction of price controls on bank loans and deposits has dominated discourse with a groundswell of public interest on the matter. Recently, the National Treasury’s 2018 Finance Bill has called for a repeal of the ‘rate caps’.

The Banking (Amendment) Act 2016 was motivated by the need to increase credit uptake, particularly for micro and small enterprises and households.

It also sought to promote a savings culture through interest rate regulation — a radical shift from the conventional principles of market-driven dynamics.

Stakeholders — including Kenya Bankers Association (the most fervent defender of market liberalisation), Central Bank of Kenya, World Bank and International Monetary Fund — have conducted studies to establish the import of the legislation.

Market analysts such as the Institute of Economic Affairs and Cytonn Investments also raised a ‘red card’.

TIGHT CONDITIONS

All the surveys revealed that the law is not achieving the intended objective but instead precipitated tight conditions of lending, occasioning a two per cent credit expansion in the private sector — down from 20 per cent in 2015. Moreover, in the space of a year, we have seen 1.2 million fewer loans. The average loan size also increased by 47 per cent — a shift towards big business and middle- and upper-class borrowers.

The law effectively benefits the rich, not ‘Wanjiku’. This shouldn’t be the case, especially because the banking industry (the most regulated of all industries in Kenya) is supervised by CBK, which has at its disposal various policy tools, including the Prudential Guidelines, to moderate industry practices.

Cytonn observed that while the caps may solve the issue of bank spreads, it would lock out SMEs and other “high-risk” borrowers and that the law was based on “an unreasonable premise that the highest extra risk premium in the Kenyan market is four per cent”.

DOWNWARD CURVE

Advocates of the cap argued the pace of borrowing was already on a downward curve. But the Act introduced a distortion from which credit markets have not recovered.

Typically, the market should rebound within three months after a shock. In this case, however, the rate caps have prolonged, if not exacerbated, the situation. If this arbitrary price control was good for our economy, we would have seen an uptick by January 2017.

Indeed, there are markets with controls on loan prices. However, very few of them, if any, have the same extreme approach as ours.

In South Africa, the maximum limit is about 35.4 per cent while the prevailing commercial prime lending rate is 10.5 per cent.

MARKET DYNAMICS

Liberating interest rates to natural market dynamics will open up bank finance, enabling borrowers to access capital while banks get the opportunity to innovate and grow.

For this reason, national Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich’s move to repeal the Act is welcome.

It will pave the way for the Treasury and CBK to work with sector stakeholders to chart the best way forward that serves the interest of the economy while promoting financial inclusion and consumer protection.

Dr Olaka is the chief executive officer, Kenya Bankers Association (KBA). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This opinion piece was published in the Daily Nation on 3rd July 2018.

Posted On Friday, 19 October 2018 15:31

By Joyce Njogu

According to a World Bank 2017 report, the East African region risks missing its long-term economic growth targets due to a widening disconnect between labour market skills needs and the graduates of higher education institutions. This is despite heavy investment by East African countries – in skills development, and public expenditure on education, which absorbs about 15% of total public spending and nearly 5% of gross domestic product. The report paints a grim picture of the availability of employable skills especially for industry such as technical mastery and artisanship.

Businesses in most countries often point to the failure of education and training systems to provide the skills they need. There is often a mismatch between skills supplied and skills demanded in the labor market. Industries that understand their current, immediate and future needs and those able to identify the opportunities presented by the ever-changing market place, will be best placed to capture the best skills in the pool. Today, new technologies, higher quality standards in world markets, flexible production processes, the pressure of global competition, the emergence of e-commerce and Industry 4.0 mean that the skill level for gaining and maintaining a competitive edge in businesses and industries is rising continuously.

Investment in skill development played a very important role in the Asian Tiger economies and the earlier miracles in the development of the Japanese and North American economies. Kenya must create an enabling environment that accelerates our socio-economic development through productivity enhancement. The primary strategy towards this end would be the development of our human resources to achieve a multiplier effect that will expedite economic reforms. Globally, several countries such as Finland Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Netherlands, have taken steps to strengthen policy guidance and regulatory frameworks for technical and vocational education and training. This has also enabled them tackle youth unemployment.

In Kenya, the government has in its budget for 2018/2019 financial year, allocated Sh444.1 billion towards education, with a focus on expansion of TVET infrastructure. This illustrates government’s commitment towards the provision of quality and relevant education and training. Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has for two years now, partnered with the Germany Technical Cooperation (GIZ) in the Technical and Vocation, Education and Training (TVET) Program. The program seeks to influence the policy direction regarding technical training towards demand-driven technical education in Kenya.

For our nation to realize Vision 2030, there has to be a focused attention towards building the human capital that will drive the industries through skills development. Primarily, the manufacturing sector is the guaranteed provider of productive, sustainable jobs. We cannot solve the unemployment menace in the country with rudimentary skills; we must secure the future of industry through practical cutting-edge skills for job creation.

Research by UNESCO reveals that, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of education exclusion. Over one-fifth of children between the ages of about 6 and 11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of about 12 and 14. There is need therefore for young people in the region to discard the notion, that vocational education is an inferior education option. Vocational training is a sure way for developing nations to industrialize at a faster rate. Developing countries could minimize skills mismatches by placing greater emphasis on TVET.

Human Capital is one of the biggest investments of any industry. It is important that skills development and other investments comprise one of the factors necessary for productivity and growth. Continued improvement of productivity is also a condition for competitiveness and economic growth and therefore poverty reduction. As a country, we indeed face the possibility of a ‘skill divide’, which will be even more threatening to our development prospects than the ‘digital divide’.

The writer is Head of KAM Consulting at Kenya Association of Manufacturers. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This opininion piece was first published on the KAM website.

Posted On Tuesday, 16 October 2018 08:53

By Sachen Gudka

Money is the bloodline of any economy, and for businesses to thrive, its steady flow and circulation are critical. Cash is king.

However, when this is not the case, the resulting effect is devastating for the entire business ecosystem due to its adverse impact on profitability, productivity and trust. Supply chains cannot be sustained and value chains are decimated.

Increasing cases of delayed payments by both National and County governments to numerous businesses countrywide are alarming. Delayed payments impede the effective circulation of money in the local economy, adding excessive strain to businesses that are already balking under other local and global market factors.

Unfortunately, the hardest hit by this trend are key drivers in bringing the Big 4 plan to fruition. For instance, due to the late harvest last year, the government, in order to continue with the maize flour subsidy programme, had to buy the maize imported by local maize millers. Presently, the Maize Millers are still owed 80% of the total debt, which amounts to an excess of Ksh 2.5 Billion. This has put a huge strain on their cash flows and in turn, they are unable to buy adequate maize and wheat from local farmers. Additionally, reimbursement owed to Maize Millers, for the transport cost incurred in transferring maize from the port to the mills under the maize subsidy programme, has also been delayed forcing them to take maize in lieu of cash payment.

Another conspicuous example is the money owed to media houses regionally and at the national level. Last week, one of the largest employers in the Country, Nation Media Group registered a 35.5% drop in profits from the previous year, owing to provisioning for unpaid revenue of Ksh 856 million by the Government Advertising Agency. Indeed, the entire media sector is owed over KSh 2.5 billion. This tremendously slows down the operations of the media houses and undoubtedly hampers their ability to be effective in the core mandate to inform and educate citizens. It also impacts the companies’ ability to offer quality employment and significant output.

A report done by the European Central Bank in 2015 on Governments’ payment discipline: the macroeconomic impact of public payment delays and arrears, unexpected delays in payment reduce corporate profits significantly since they alter the present discounted value of payment. This is especially so in our case as there are no interests applied on reimbursements or arrears. The report found that, increase in delayed payments reduces profit growth by 1.5 to 3.4 percentage points.

Because delayed payment has a ripple effect, suppliers of affected companies and other businesses in the value chain are also severely affected. Worst of all, SMEs who rely on a much urgent supply of cash to run their day-to-day operations become crippled and, in many cases, bankrupt. Other macroeconomic effects of this could be the increased cost of credit to companies – as it stands already this is a huge impediment to the growth of the manufacturing sector.

A look at a long-standing issue such as the VAT refunds owed to manufacturers paints this picture clearly. The refund process has been very slow because of the required administrative process. This means that a lot of money, which runs into billions of Kenya Shillings, is held up in Government processes causing manufacturers to borrow heavily due to cash flow constraints.

Just last year, our retail sector was at a near-collapse as some of the largest supermarket chains were caught up in arrears amounting to over Ksh 40bn to suppliers all over the country. The inability for supermarkets to absorb locally produced goods translates to lower sales by local manufacturers, who are already owed billions by both County and National Governments.

Following this, the Government through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives together with stakeholders from Industry led by KAM, developed a study on regulations for prompt payment and a code of practice to help ‘stop the bleeding’. Some of the recommendations were; to review the current payment period to a shorter time and the establishment of a legal framework to curb the culture of late payment following international best practice. For example, to discourage late payment, the EU Directive 2011/7/EU provides for statutory interest as a redress procedure for the aggrieved party in the Supplier agreement. According to this law, a Supplier is entitled to interest for late payment from the day following the date or the end of the period for payment fixed in the contract.

At this point, businesses are dealing with the increased cost of operation brought on by various factors including the cost of electricity, fuel and high taxes. Citizens, on the other hand, are dealing with an increasing cost of living. We cannot afford to aggravate this by reducing businesses’ capacity to function productively.

Government must act fast on this matter and salvage our position as a preferred investor-destination in Africa.

The writer is the Chairman of Kenya Association of Manufacturers and can be reached on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  This was first published as an opinion piece on the KAM website on 23rd August  2018.

There has been advocacy on delayed payments and you can read more about this issue here Retail Trade Sector Regulations and Code of Practice - Retail Trade Association of Kenya (RETRAK).

Posted On Thursday, 11 October 2018 08:41

By Bryan Cuthbert

The global imagination of Rural, is mainly a depiction of low-income communities who rely primarily on agricultural activities for their livelihood.

Agriculture and Industry have long been tied in a symbiotic relationship that sees the former provide raw material such as hides, skins, cotton, fresh fruit, tree barks among others towards the creation of final products. Industry on the other hand, incorporates many agribusinesses into the numerous value and supply chains that drive it, and this catalyzes the growth and productivity of Agriculture. Its, additional generation of foreign earnings through exports also provides an income to many.

According to the 2018 Kenya Economic Survey, our agricultural sector made the highest contribution to GDP with 31.5% in 2017. Just to get a better scope of the contributors to this; the total value of marketed production increased by 8.2% to Kshs. 446.9 Billion from Kshs. 413.3 billion in 2016, with the highest marketed production being livestock and products at Kshs. 135.6 billion, tea at Kshs. 134.8 billion and horticulture at Kshs. 114.3Billion.

These figures are compelling! And to think that as a country we have barely scratched the surface with regards to the potential in this sector. We need to start thinking – Agro-based Manufacturing. Meaning we should renew our commitment towards increased value-addition and our zeal towards realizing prolific backwards and forward linkages along value chains.

In the Food Security and Manufacturing Pillars of the Big 4 Agenda, the government has put in place measures that seek to expand food production and supply in the country, as well as a concerted effort towards the reduction of food prices to ensure affordability to all citizens.

Under the two pillars, the government has prioritized textiles and apparel, leather products, agro-processing and construction materials. To promote agro-processing, the Government is focusing on tea, coffee, meat, sugar, dairy, fruits, and vegetables, in order to obtain more value and create an additional 200,000 jobs in the country.

Why then does value addition matter?

A major contributor to food scarcity in the country has been the massive post-harvest losses that occur due to low-value addition and inadequate cold chain facilities. Food Agriculture Organization’s (FAO 2014) report on Food Loss Assessments, approximates that Kenya losses between 20% – 50% of its agricultural production due to post-harvest losses.

However, if we recalibrate our thinking towards Agro-based manufacturing we can significantly minimize this wastage and increase the quality of products and their shelf life – through value addition. For instance, at present, fresh milk can last 24 hours at most depending on climatic conditions. But, once it is processed into various products it can last months on end. Hence we need to kick start deliberate efforts by county governments and industry to, for instance, set up milk cooling plants along the supply chains towards this endeavor for value addition in the country.

Value addition also promotes the growth of backward and forward linkages, and in the process creates the much-needed productive jobs for the youth, and equally, increases the purchasing power of citizens. Increased purchasing power means increased demand for locally made products and this in turn, will raise the local market share of manufactured products. As demand for locally made products increases, so does the demand for agricultural products to cater for the new market and ultimately, demand for farm inputs such as fertilizers, better machinery that will also lead to the expansion of the agricultural sector.

Moreover, value addition provides additional foreign exchange earnings through export of agro-processed products. The world chocolate market, for instance, is worth USD 100 Billion annually, however, the two largest cocoa growing countries, Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana, only earn USD 5 Billion since all the value addition is done outside those countries.

The same applies to products such as tea, coffee, hides and skins amongst others. If we are to add value to these products, we would realize five times the earnings we currently have (at the very least), and in the process, create more direct and indirect jobs along the value chains.

97.3% of our tea is exported in bulk form meaning that only 2.7% is valued added. This means that if we are to add value to our tea, we would earn at least 500% of the value of the raw exports. On the other hand, value addition of cotton from farm to fashion increases value by about 600%, a factor that is lost when the raw material is exported. This can be expanded exponentially in other agricultural commodities, and ultimately enhance wealth creation and erode poverty.

To achieve the above, it is critical that we have policies in place that encourage the competitiveness and growth of local industries. Additionally, it is important that we challenge land policies that are continually reducing the amount of land available for agriculture, and enforce cooperative society laws to curb the rampant mismanagement of farmers’ resources to encourage farming in the counties. This is one of the surest ways to attain the Big 4 Agenda.

The writer is the Chapter Chairman of Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) North Rift Chapter. He can be reached on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This was first published as an opinion piece on the KAM website on 25th September 2018.

Posted On Tuesday, 02 October 2018 13:10

By Kuchio Asonga,

On the evening of Sunday 28th January 2018 broadcasters and social media platforms were a buzz with news of a fire that was raging in the Langata area. As more information trickled in, it was revealed that the Kijiji Slum in Langata Constituency was ablaze.

In the hours that followed Twitter was awash with Kenyans venting their frustration and disappointment on how the situation was unfolding with many using the hashtag   #Langatafire for this.

One of the more popular tweets that drew numerous reactions on the platform was from Dr Mercy Korir, a medical doctor and health/media correspondent with the Standard Media Group. The tweet seemed to capture frustrations Kenyans’ have with how fire and rescue services are run in Nairobi County and Kenya in general.

 

Over the years’ numerous disasters such as the Nakumatt supermarket fire in 2009, Sinai (pipeline) slum fire in 2011 and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport fire in 2013 that razed the arrivals terminal have brought disaster management to the fore as a national issue.  At the county level a series of school fires following unrest among students in secondary schools across the country highlighted county governments inadequacy in providing Fire and Rescue services.

Kenyan citizens would be forgiven for giving in to hopelessness and despair. However, out of the public eye there have been efforts towards developing public policy that could eventually improve Kenya’s disaster preparedness and more specifically strengthen fire and rescue services.

In 2009, the Ministry of State for Special Programmes presented a National Policy for Disaster Management in Kenya. The document covers Kenya’s disaster profile that includes droughts, fires, floods, terrorism, technological accidents, diseases and epidemics. The policy provided an overarching framework for decision-making and coordination across disaster management sectors and actors that include government, ministries, civil society organisations, international organisations and the private sector.

The promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 highlighted the need to cascade the Policy to the county level. In 2013 the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) with input for various stakeholders in the sector developed two model laws for county governments to adapt in their county jurisdictions; the County Disaster Management Model Bill and the County Fire and Rescue Service Model Bill.

In addition, two senate Bills were drafted and published; these were the County Disaster Management (CDM) Bill 2013 and the County Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) Bill 2013.

These Bills were viewed as essential towards helping counties build capacity and implement the national policy on disaster management within a legal framework. However, in 2014, both Bills were merged into the County Disaster Management Bill 2014 with more focus on disaster management than on fire and rescue services. According to the Association of Fire Protection Industry Stakeholders (AFPIS) their members were not consulted on the merged Bill.

AFPIS has argued for separate Fire and Rescue legislation a part from disaster management legislation like in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Tanzania and South Africa which have specific Fire and Rescue Acts.

According to data from Kenya’s National Disaster Operations Centre, since 2008 more than eight million people have either died or been affected by fire related incidents across the country with the financial cost being losses of over KShs. 68 million. Without any real attempts to mitigate this situation the loss of life and property is bound to keep rising.

Kenya, a nation of estimated population of 49 million, has only 600 firefighters that are mainly based in the urban areas of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa counties. Majority of the counties in Kenya have no Fire and Rescue service in place.

Kijiji Slum fire in Langata Constituency could be added to the litany of fire incidents that have occurred across the country or could be a catalyst to action through private-public dialogue on policy interventions that could mitigate death and losses through fire.

Posted On Wednesday, 21 February 2018 14:50