This feature on what needs to be done to lower cost of living in Kenya was written and published by financial analyst Ephraim Njega:
To lower cost of living in Kenya you don’t need trillions of shilling and grand ideas. You just need commonsense ideas and competent implementation by people of integrity.
1). To lower the cost of rent the government need to invest in social housing. It also needs to create mass transit infrastructure and security to ensure you can live anywhere within a 100km radius of Nairobi CBD and be able to travel to and from Nairobi CBD within an hour.
This would mean doing an SGR connecting Nairobi Central Railway stations to places like Machakos, Kajiado, Naivasha, Kenol etc. The electrified SGR would travel at a speed of 160 km/hr. This means I can live in Karatina and commute daily to Nairobi.
This would open up more areas for settlement. The government would then provide serviced land for people to build houses within this zone. It should also build some houses for renting at subsidized rates. Taxes and levies on building materials should be scrapped or kept at a minimum.
2). To lower the cost of transport the government needs to invest in mass transit system which is powered by electricity. We can use solar to power this system. The current idea to use electric buses on the BRT system being constructed should be followed through.
3). The government should invest heavily in schools and ensure education offered in public schools is of the highest quality possible. There is no reason why poor people in a country like Kenya should be taking children to private schools.
4). Lowering the cost of healthcare will require investing in infrastructure and personnel to ensure public healthcare facilities offer world class services. It is sad that households are being impoverished into destitution by hefty hospital bills.
We need to be serious about universal health care. If a household need 6,000 per year for NHIF why can’t the government pay KShs 72 billion for all the 12 million households in the country? They can even start by paying KShs 36 billion for half the households. Is this too much to ask in a KShs 3.6 trillion budget?
Taxing medicines, medical equipment and medical supplies is cruel and insane. it should be stopped!
5). To make food cheap the government should invest massively in irrigation and ensure the country is food secure as far as the main staples are concerned. If we invested competently in the Galana-Kulalu project we would today be food secure in things like maize and sugar. The government should also scrap all taxes and levies on agricultural inputs. It makes no sense to tax both inputs and output. This is killing industries.
It is possible to ensure all Kenyans can afford food, rent, transport, education and healthcare without much struggle. This is the way to true economic development. We should invest public funds towards such goals instead of wasting money on vendor driven projects.