Kenya has a vision 2030 while Tanzania has Vision 2025. Both Visions aim at ensuring that the two East African Countries attain development goals that can ensure they are middle income countries come the stated years.The Vision blue prints by the two Countries are impressive and show that some serious thought has been put into the how of jump starting the economies including through Regional Integration and Infrastructure programmes.
What is even more inspiring is that the Governments have not just been writing dream projects, there has been serious money put in the way of Infrastructure and ICT programmes as a way of jump-starting the attainment of the broader vision objectives.Governments are, in a shift of direction, attempting more of the self sustaining approach rather than borrowing.
It is important that Governments are trying a do it yourself, accompanied by Private Public investment partnership approach rather than seeking the external borrowing as ways of making the Vision’s see the light of day.For the first time in many years, it is looking like Governments in East Africa are beginning to internalize two very fundamental basic approaches to development: that a joint approach works best between sisterly nations and that, local businesses, investments and PPP can work a lot better than foreign loan approaches.
However the gripe one sees is with the stark statistics which are working against these noble goals. The population of East Africa today is about 120m and this is projected to reach 180m in 15 years.On average, an East African woman bears 4.7 children compared to 1.2 Chinese and 1.7 European averages.
In a sense, the Visions of both Tanzania and Kenya re being projected for the provision of services to a population of the current estimates. If this was to remain constant (population) then the projections would be beautiful music to our ears.
The trouble is , our fertility is high and growth rate even higher thereby ensuring that in real terms , even if the visions were to be attained and East Africa became industrialized, the dream of middle income region where the less than a dollar per day statistics are reeled with abandon, would not be achievable.
Finland for example has free Education at University Level. They have these services including a generous pension plan that one can live on because they managed to control their population growth.
The fallacy that the number of children a in a family is a personal decision is one that we must now take on head on. That children are a blessing from God and that it is African to keep on delivering are beliefs that have no place in Visions 20 something.We owe it to our children to plan for the future as an anonymous philosopher once said “Man becomes free when he plants trees under whose shades he shall never lie.”
It is important now for East Africa to decide whether we want a better life for our future or we had rather have our grandchildren live worse than we ever did. That conundrum can be resolved by ensuring that we provide sex education including family planning, contraceptives and regulation on numbers of children a couple can have .
That will be the first step towards becoming a region which is middle income. No oil, gas or Gold deposits can be huge enough to provide living standards we dream of without watching the numbers of our populations. The time to act is now.The writer is Managing Editor of Utafiti News Features.
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