Before President Nwai Kibaki's National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) administration took office in 2002, Kenya's economic growth, handicapped by poor infrastructure, a general lack of direction, and political apathy, had slumped to less than 0.6%. NARC ushered in a vigorous recovery strategy that produced the most sustained period of growth for all the key economic sectors in the country's history.
Five years later, growth was averaging 7% before it was rudely interrupted by the post-election violence of 2007-08.
Since then, the country has clawed back most of the gains; this year growth is anticipated at around 5%. However, a two-year drought, high fuel prices, and the global economic slump are likely to limit growth to around 4.5% this year.
It was during the period of rapid growth in 2005 that work first started on a strategy that would transform Kenya into a globally competitive, rapidly industrialising middle-income nation by 2030. A wide cross-section of local and foreign experts, the public and private sectors, professionals, and ordinary citizens held detailed consultations to draft the strategy papers.
The result, Vision 2030, is one of the most comprehensive development agendas in modern African history - a project that goes beyond economic transformation and aims at "nothing short of a quantum leap in the standard of living of the people of Kenya by the year 2030", says Mugo Kibati, the director-general at the Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat in Nairobi.
The strategy is anchored on three pillars: economic, social and political governance.
"The Vision calls for an annual 10% rate of growth," says Wydiffe Oparanya, Minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030. "To achieve this, we must have macroeconomic stability which means low levels of inflation, strictly limited public sector deficits, a stable exchange rate and low interest rates."
Minister Oparanya points out that prior to 2002, 80% of the national budget went to recurrent expenses, 20% to development. "Now it is 40% for development, 60% recurrent. We are aiming for a 50-50 ratio. "
A great deal of emphasis is being laid on infrastructure. Work is already underway to create a network of roads, railways, ports, airports, waterways, and telecoms such that "it will be impossible to refer to any region in our country as 'remote', " Oparanya says.
One of Vision 2030's flagship projects is the 10-lane, $317111...