#Africa Kenya election 2017: Where next after Kenyatta’s victory?


Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has defeated his long-time rival Raila Odinga in the country’s general elections.

Kenyatta’s Jubilee Alliance party won around 54% of the vote on Tuesday compared to Odinga’s 44.8%, with other smaller parties accounting for the rest of the vote. There are fears that there might be a repeat of the violence that marred the disputed 2007 election when more than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced.

This fear has been compounded after a senior Kenyan election official Chris Msando was tortured and murdered by unknown assailants at the end of last month. So far the election has been peaceful besides a few protests in some areas of the country. But the country could yet see further protests after Odinga rejected the polls as being “fake” and “illegal”.  Kenya’s electoral commission has, however, said they had confidence in the integrity of the election result.  

Once the dust settles President Kenyatta, who has been in office since 2013, will need to get to work to improve the lives of ordinary Kenyans, who have become frustrated at the pace of change occurring in the country. Here are five priorities, in no particular order, for the incumbent to tackle during his five-year term:

(1) Inclusive economic growth

Delivering inclusive economic growth which lifts ordinary Kenyans out of poverty and allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should be at the top of the president’s agenda. 

(2) Expanding infrastructure projects

Work has already begun on delivering on multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects such as the $4bn Chinese-built railway from Nairobi to Mombasa. Expanding and delivering the projects will help the economy grow, however, the country’s debt levels must be kept in check. 

(3) Mitigating effects of drought

The Kenyan drought has led to widespread crop failure and livestock depletion, which has pushed food prices up, while also creating conflict between herders and farm owners in parts of the country. Securing Kenya’s food security from future shocks and bringing security back to the rural regions of the country should form part of Kenyatta’s agenda for the next five years.    

(4) Tackling the country’s power shortages

Despite adding 1.3 million homes to the electricity grid in 2016,  45% of Kenyans still don’t have access to electricity. Kenya aims to achieve “universal access”, where 95% of homes will have access to electricity, by 2020. This target is within reach partly due to the rapid uptake of solar power in parts of the country. Kenyatta’s government will need to invest in providing power to those that cannot afford it while ensuring that sector remains attractive to investors. 

(5) Giving youth opportunities

Like most African countries, Kenya’s largest demographic is young people, with the median age being about 19 years old. Creating economic opportunities for the youth will play a major role in determining the fate of Kenyatta’s second term.

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