Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kenya Vision 2030

Does Kenya need Vision 2030, its strategic plan for the next 23 years? Or would 2020 vision be more useful?

From Thursday's "Business Daily" in Nairobi. . . .
"Repositioning of the Coast Circuit, opening under-utilised parks and providing niche products have been unveiled as the key drivers towards the government achieving Vision 2030 through the tourism sector. The strategy aims at making Kenya one of the top 10 long haul tourist destinations, offering diverse and high end experiences by 2012 to a target five million tourists."

Five million tourists by 2012? That's some target, when just over a million visited in 2006. The article goes on to say that roads are a problem. And if their figures are right, they will continue to be, as the story quotes Ksh3million having been allocated to road repairs on access roads to tourist sites. That's a bit more than £20,000 ($40,000) which, even on Kenya's famously low wages (£1–2, or $2–4 a day is about the level manual workers and hotel staff can expect) won't go very far. As Tourism Concern's "Behind the Smile: The Tsunami of Tourism" showed, Kenya's success as a tourist economy depends on unsustainable levels of exploitation of some of the world's poorest people.

Maybe proper labour laws are a separate issue. A good start would be finishing the Nairobi to Mombasa highway (the photo here was taken by the front passenger while we were driving towards Nairobi. . .).

With Kenya's weather, and the sort of rains that are now common, roads are going to need repairing more and more frequently. So how about building a brand-new, high-speed, wide-gauge line linking Mombasa with Nairobi and Kampala – a futuristic railway running oversize rolling stock – from the Indian Ocean across the Rift Valley to central Africa, perhaps carrying 3000 passengers and freight. This could serve as a blueprint for the future of mass transportation in similarly suitable environments. Compared with building the same line in Europe, construction costs on much of the low-population-density route would be minimal; exports would boom; the tourists would come; the wildlife and the environment would be preserved; and Kenya would once again have an asset to be proud of, running alongside its famous, nineteenth-century “lunatic line”.

Just a thought.