NAIROBI — The World Bank and UNICEF report that 767 million people or 10.7 percent of the world’s population live in extreme poverty. While these 10.7 percents live on less than $1.90 a day, 2.1 billion people live on less than $3.10 per day. Moreover, of the 767 million people that live in extreme poverty, 328 million of them are children. Three hundred, eighty three million of the people living in extreme poverty live in Africa, and 60.2 million live in East Africa.
Kenya, a leader in producing and exporting services (financial center and communication hub) in sub-Saharan Africa, has a population of 46.1 million. The Kenya poverty rate indicates that 46 percent of its people live below the poverty line and 10.9 million of those people live in extreme poverty.
While these numbers might be alarming, there are promising signs of growth in Kenya and most of the countries in East Africa. A key to development and impact on the Kenya poverty rate in a positive direction is improving the economy and making provisions for enhanced healthcare delivery.
Kenya is moving in a positive direction as primary school enrollment has increased and child mortality rates have dropped. These improvements in its educational and healthcare infrastructures have had an impact on the population growth in the country. Kenya’s population has increased by an estimated one million people per year over the past several years.
This growth has had an enormous impact on economic growth in Kenya and a ripple effect on neighboring nations.
Growth in Kenya and most of its regional allies illustrate a positive swing in an upward direction for development in Africa. Especially when most of the countries are landlocked and lack the adequate infrastructure to support investment plans. For Kenya, the improvements of its logistics and transportation services led to an increase in its competitive posture in Africa.
These advancements of its infrastructure include an expansion of its international airport in Nairobi and the cargo port in Mombasa. Now delivery times are shortened, and access to local and regional markets enhances for Kenyan business people. The poverty rate in Kenya is expected to reduce as living conditions improve and people move from rural communities to urban areas.
While the projected growths in Kenya are promising, there are situations beyond the economy and society that need focus. Political conditions are tense in Kenya these days as elections are looming and unresolved inefficiencies in the governments capacity to provide a reliable police structure are unraveling old wounds. Kenya has had four elections since its transition to a multi-party state in 1991.
Three of these elections have resulted in extreme violence and a score of displaced people. The elections in 2007-2008 left over 1,100 people dead, and 650,000 people displaced over parts of Kenya. Coincidently, a majority of the displaced people belong to rural communities where 80 percent of the country’s poor reside. The correlation between literacy rates, political involvement and economic development does not need to get mentioned here, but its impact on poverty is evident.
For the poverty rate to decrease, economic situations must improve, and living conditions in the rural parts of Kenya can enhance. If violence continues, foreign businesses might be discouraged from participating in investment plans in Kenya. The events surrounding this election and the outcomes afterward present key opportunities for Kenya to improve the educational and healthcare conditions in its rural communities.
Kenya’s population size and its prospects for business growth make it a key player in Africa’s growth. For Kenya to improve its advantage in the global marketplace it must reduce its poverty rate and enhance living conditions.
– Ebuka Okoye