Kenya: Build Local Industries to Create Jobs

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Ms Ngilu the Governor of Kitui County emphasizes in her speech on better leadership so as to achieve great followership plus development in the land.

We all want a country that works, which is globally competitive and one that’s ready for business and investment. But what have we done as leaders to get that going? The role of public sector leadership is to facilitate good policies, create an enabling environment for investment and ease of doing business. The role of corporate leaders is to invest and be innovative, so that our businesses can compete globally.

Over the years, some corporate executives and captains of industry have made great sacrifices to create opportunities for our people to earn a living and to create wealth. Above all this, they pay the taxes which finance the public sector.

In political language, they are the bakers of the national cake. Without them, there would be little or nothing for us to share — and that is why we have to treat them with kid gloves. We, politicians and public servants, should facilitate the private sector and entrepreneurs to bake the national cake. We should make it easy for them to access public services without red tape and ‘kitu kidogo’. We should fight for them to have greater access for our goods and services in the global market. People are the most important investment in any business. While the other factors of production — land, capital and technology — are key, labor (people) is the most important. However, I dare say leadership is the one factor missing from the list.

Leadership — visionary, committed, focused leadership that harnesses the other factors — is key to any successful enterprise. A good employer will focus on getting the best out of the people who work for them. You train them, build their capacity, expose them to new methods, motivate them and recognize and reward them so that they can give you their best. You give them tools, especially technology, to be efficient. A good employer should foster teamwork to ensure there is no silo mentality in the workplace and that there is seamless flow of work. That goes hand in hand with proper planning and setting of targets. The targets must be costed, with continuous monitoring and evaluation to ensure the work is on course. A good employer will ensure employees operate in a safe and healthy environment and improve their welfare. Special attention should be given to women, especially new mothers, and persons living with disability. Workplace gender ratio balances, gender equality and gender parity should be observed.

As President Harry Truman famously said, “progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for better.” We need to think and act more radically in order to create opportunities for those who have been left out of employment and protect those holding precarious informal sector jobs. We have enormous potential in this country. We have a country endowed with great natural resources, hardworking people and an excellent global positioning. We have a huge labor force out there which can be utilized to turn around this country. Let’s tap it.

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