Ridding corruption to aid innovation growth and sustainability

Written By: Tom Ogamba
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It has been regularly said that innovation is the silver bullet that will help the Republic of Kenya reach its development goals, chiefly Vision 2030.

Innovation can significantly advance the lives of millions of Kenyans from across the country, especially our youth which are the driving force of our national future.

Their chances for economic participation, through the provision of better and cheaper goods and services, in health, transport, and e-government become exponential. They have already helped transform Kenya from its traditional commodity-based economic model, to a ‘Silicon Savannah’, which has attracted interest from across the globe.

According to the World Bank, innovation and productivity are key elements in creating a more progressive Kenyan economy and they have invested heavily in it through programmes such as the Industry and Entrepreneurship Project for Kenya, which is aimed at strengthening the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem aims to improve the survival and growth rates of technology-enabled startups in Kenya through a stronger innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem and talent base.

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Innovation is the great leveler in today’s economies.

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Whereas formerly the children of the more wealthy or connected would immediately receive an almost insurmountable head start in life because of their ability to sneak into university, not on merit but sometimes on bribes, and the best jobs, frequently in the civil service, under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s war on corruption, much of this is becoming a thing of the past.

For example, the evaluation of the prospective beneficiaries of the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities project (KYOP), known as ‘Randomisation’, the process where beneficiaries of entrepreneurial and training opportunities are picked randomly before the implementation is rolled out by the government through the ministry of Youth affairs, used to be frequently accused of being less than random.

The accusation was that certain people of influence and wealth would receive opportunities and not have to suffer the nail-biting process of being randomly picked. This obviously meant that sometimes the best candidates would not be picked and it was not an equal playing field for all of Kenyan youth who wished to apply.

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During remarks made by Gatundu North Member of Parliament Ms. Wanjiku Kibe at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Juja, she spoke about how important the fight against corruption is to the nation’s innovation sector.

“When we have  scores of young people becoming innovative and being able to stand on their own, we are happy because most of them have gone an extra mile to engage others and this has reduced unemployment therefore steering the wheel of National development ”she noted.

Ms Kibe said that the president should not relent in his effort to curb the run-away corruption that was almost crippling institutions of governance in the country.

Coupling the two, she called on all leaders to support the President’s efforts which she said would safeguard our nation and enable generations to come to have a strong foundation of resources.

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Earlier in the year, the South African-based research agency, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) looked at the issue of how corruption affects local innovation, especially in developing economies.

They found that an increase in grand corruption in an industry discourages investment in research and development, reduces the likelihood of upgrading existing lines of products and/or services and stifles the development of new products or services for all firms in the same industry.

 

Innovation is the hope of a generation that does not want to just ‘accept’ its place in the social order, but wants to push forward to a new era. It is the driving pulse of a new economy, one that will allow Kenya to meet its goals.

 

The main obstacle is corruption, but slowly President Kenyatta’s activities in the war on corruption and the tone he is setting is eating away at this malignant mindset that is preventing a better future for Kenya’s youth.

 

The future of Kenya is brighter thanks to the war on corruption.

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