Monday, July 28, 2008



July 27 2008
Daily Nation

VISION 2030 IS NO DOUBT A timely and laudable Government effort, only it is over-ambitious on time, unattractive to the 2008 budget drafters, and unrealistic in having its foundation in neo-classisist economic thinking.

The Vision’s main economic, social and political pillars and flagship projects to be embarked upon in the medium-term period are wanting from the knowledge economics perspective, in particular on science, technology and innovation (STi), the new policy on STi notwithstanding.

Industrial cluster development is a complex, long-term endeavour that requires a critical mass of existing resources, and rich, zealous local champions.

Kenya is a poor, struggling country where knowledge-powered rural development is the most pressing need, and should play to its strengths.

It is not an over-emphasis, that effective generation and leveraging of knowledge are today’s key sources of competitive advantage as may be seen in the world’s advanced economies.

IN 1950, MOST PEOPLE ENGAGED in manufacturing, farming, mining and transportation. By the 1990s, their number had shrunk to one-fifth. Two years from now, they will be no more than one-tenth.

The balance between knowledge and resources has shifted towards the former. The traditional factors of production – land, labour, and machines – have become secondary.

The fate of nations teaches us that we live in a sea of constant change that plays rough on the global scale, and re-orienting Vision 2030 to be about walking the country into a knowledge economy should be seen as transforming the ship while a storm is raging on the open sea.

The Lisbon Agenda, for instance, has put a very ambitious blueprint, constantly informed by stimulated debate and public engagement on the issues that are at the centre of a successful knowledge economy, for rapidly moving Europe from the industrial age to a global, networked knowledge-based economy, which has inevitably necessitated changes, not only in the economy, but also in the institutions and systems designed for a different era.

The goal of politics in the 21st century should be to create societies that maximise knowledge. There is no part of our economic activity which cannot be improved by, or which will not benefit from, the application of knowledge and ideas.

Any country that writes off a third of its people through poor schooling, family breakdowns, poverty and strife, throws away precious assets: brain-power, intelligence and creativity.

As Alvin Toffler observes in his book, Future Shock “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Like people, States are in today’s information age, more than ever before, expected to be able to unlearn, relearn and learn in the tumultuous ‘sea’ of change.

States which are prepared to learn will succeed, while those which consider themselves learned will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Knowledge capitalism, which involves generating new ideas and turning them speedily into products and services that reach the market through a wide variety of routes, is a vital driving force in the new world economy.