An economic expert has predicted that Kenya will be a $1 trillion (Sh87 trillion) economy by 2050 if the current trend of growth is sustained. Charles Robertson, a senior economic analyst with global investment bank Renaissance Capital (RenCap) spoke yes- terday during a high-level conference on Kenya’s economic prospects. Robertson noted that signs that Kenya will achieve that forecast of a Sh80 trillion economy were already too clear.
“If you look at the growth story in sub-Saharan Africa, you will notice that the region is where India was in the 1980’s when the subcontinent’s growth exploded,” he said. The economist noted that there was a marked difference in the growth that sub-Saharan Africa region is following. Where the Asian tigers and India grew on the manufacturing sector fuelled mainly by the steel industry, Sub-Saharan growth is largely driven by the service industry.
“In Kenya, ICT and Tourism have emerged as the biggest drivers of the economy. Now, that is what has fuelled the growth in the country so far. Yet the country has just recently discovered minerals and oil that will accelerate growth,” he said. He was referring to the re- cent discoveries of minerals and metal elements such as iron ore, rare earth elements, and nobium. The country is on course to start pumping oil as early as the first quarter of next year.
Robertson is the author of The Fastest Billion: The Story Behind Africa’s Economic Revolution, a book that demystifies the notion that Africa is a risky investment. The two-day conference whose theme is Ready for Take-off: Kenya’s Successes, Prospects and Challenges has been organised by National Treasury and International Monetary Fund.
Robertson was speaking during a session in the conference to explore the various ways that the private sector in Kenya can lead in the country’s economic take off. Speaking at the same session, Uchumi Supermarkets Chief Executive Jonathan Ciano said both government and private sector need to cooperate in order to harness the consumption pow- er of the rising Kenya middle class to drive growth.
“The middle class needs present an ample opportunity for entrepreneurs. To do so we must look at three things. The three are, hardware, software and precipitators,” said Ciano. He said there was a large need for housing the middle class outside of the city centre, such as the rural and peri-urban centres. “The new middle class does not wanted to be crowded in the old city estates. This class knows what it needs but cannot find. You can tell that from the growth of new middle income settlements outside of the old city of Nairobi,” said Ciano. - By GITAHI NGUNYI