Mandera County economy has been in decline for the last 50 years. Not only that Mandera has been hit hard by the insecurity since the collapse of Siyad Barre regime in 1990, it also seems to be caught in a vicious cycle. Since inward investment is difficult to come by, economic activity in general is low in Mandera and all Northern NFD counties as a whole, which makes it an unattractive place for any investor to be. On top of that, the economic policy of the previous three successive Government of Kenyatta,Moi and Kibaki didn’t not help. The Now County government under Ali Roba has mainly one objective, to keep the County public sector as large as possible since it is public sector jobs that form the main shoddy 4.5 equal opportunity policy that was negotiated at county level, and because of county government employment is often the only mechanism to address structural unemployment in mandera county’s low economic activity.
The result of this devastating policy and the long term structural problems of our county economy are reflected in the economic figures public every year since 1963. In almost all indices of economic activity mandera county lags behind all other counties, whilst it leads in almost all statistics of government budget allocations which mandera county leads the rest of regions.
But look more closely and the figures reveal an even more shocking picture. Mandera County also lags behind in terms of productivity. The gross added value in Mandera compared to the rest of the counties is 0%, leaving mandera County way behind any other region as one of the zero productive of the Kenya.
How difficult it is to break out of this vicious cycle of enormous talking shop and the stagnant low economic activity has sparked a lively discussion amongst many who care about this brilliant county. The only people who seems to show little interest in tackling the deep seated problems of Mandera County is the lecures at Moi stadium once every year.
Although the County Government Leadership avoided the bad press this week, The poor performance of the Mandera County government and slow progress is widely acknowledged amongst the sons and daughters of the county and reveals one fact above all. They still have no strategy and policies on how to pull Mandera County out of this mess which previous heartless corrupt regimes permitted to develop over the last 49 years in power. There are plenty of possible solutions in the last 12 month but the first impression seems to fail to impress.
The most attractive way out of the situation would of course be to stop this tokenistic recruitment adverts coming every month to blind us off and shrink the public sector and to free up County expenditure to invest in the social development, Youth development, secure and well funded education, kick start of infrastructural development . There can be no doubt that the current ratio of County governmental spending stifles private investment and economic activity.
Since the Youthful County Assembly has been created it has either idled its way through the decade or engaged in matters, at best, peripheral to the state of the economy, at worst, detrimental to its growth prospects. Part of the explanation is that Mandera County Assembly members of all parties are of fairly low calibre. Any talented brains have been blocked or marginalized thus alienated them from giving the well deserve a second chance to salvage the county. With a severely restricted talent tool for the mandera County developmental affairs, debates are often either painfully partisan and tribal, or focussed on taxing Mama mboga, unresponsive and less prioritised agenda and unwarranted tender announcement. Needless to say that neither of those are of any consequence to the Mandera County economy or development.
It seems that as long as the Mandera County Government is in denial about its own responsibility for the devastating inequalities in resource distributions and as long as the Ali Roba’s County Government clings to the mirage that County public sector employment is the only way to tackle socio-economic deprivation, little will change in the land of Halima and Hassan.