Combating Deglobalization: Which way Kenya?

Rich countries are reducing connectedness with each other and calling for the revival and revitalization of the nation-states. ILLUSTRATION/Systemic Alternatives.
Rich countries are reducing connectedness with each other and calling for the revival and revitalization of the nation-states. ILLUSTRATION/Systemic Alternatives.

Deglobalization is taking place when economies in Africa are in turmoil. 

Some African countries have been unable to meet their debt repayment responsibility to the World Bank and IMF. 

They are also experiencing protests over food shortages and a high cost of living. 

Energy prices are on the increase, while some are not able to provide electricity to their communities.  

Political conflicts and wars are also beginning to be witnessed. This calls for the need for African economies to come up with policies to meet the challenges of deglobalization.

Deglobalization is the process of declining interdependence and integration between certain units around the world, generally nation-states.

It is now apparent that deglobalization is here with us. 

Moving out

Leading rich nations of Europe and North America are reducing their connectedness with each other and calling for the revival and revitalization of the nation-states. 

They are also trying to reverse their supply chains and introduce domestic manufacturing. 

They are also aiming at containing migration and calling for the maintenance of national identities. 

The move towards deglobalization has been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. 

The question that comes to mind is how Kenya is going to respond to this process of deglobalization.

In history

When globalization and deglobalization processes were taking place in the past, Kenya and African countries were colonies, or they were introduced as conditionalities during the structural adjustments programs of the 1980s and 1990 by the World Bank and IMF. 

They were painful and led to the collapse of domestic manufacturing, reliance on imported consumer and capital goods as well as the collapse of infrastructure. 

As these economies were about to recover, deglobalization began to happen. 

It happened due to high unemployment, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine and local political upheavals.

Untimely?

Deglobalization is taking place when Kenya is heavily indebted and it is not able to meet its budgetary requirements of paying salaries. 

It is also marred by food insecurity and drought effects occasioned by climate change. 

It is also amid political upheaval tied to presidential elections. Youth unemployment is also another problem. 

It is feared that deglobalization will sink Africa into poverty. 

Kenya’s way out

To avert the projected effects and make deglobalization less painful, I propose some ways in which Kenya can use to address the pain of the sting.

  • Reviving the manufacturing sector

One of the ways Kenya can respond is to revive its manufacturing sector and reduce its dependence on imported consumer and capital goods.

When loans are borrowed, they are transferred back to the developed countries to import consumer and capital goods. This means that the money that comes in the form of aid does not remain in the country. 

It goes out of the country to buy consumer and capital goods. 

By reviving the manufacturing sector, the country will create jobs and contribute to GDP growth. 

This will go a long way in alleviating poverty.

  • Value addition of products

The second way is to process goods before they are exported. 

Kenya mostly relies on commodities such as tea, coffee, avocadoes, horticultural products and flowers that are exported raw to Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. 

We need to manufacture our own products before exporting them. 

This will raise their value addition, create jobs and improve the country’s GDP. Overall, it will improve the terms of international trade.

  • Tapping Kenyan entrepreneurial spirit

The third approach is tapping the entrepreneurial spirit of the Kenyan people. Most Kenyans engage in retail and processing activities in the informal sector. 

Business in the informal sector is significant and should be brought into the mainstream. It has contributed to the urbanization of Africa. 

There is a need to learn the raison d’être of the informal sector so that it can help in industrializing Kenya.

  • Increasing intercountry trade

Kenya should intensify its trade with its African neighbors. 

It can increase its trade in food and other agricultural products. There should also be skill exchanges and joint infrastructure development.

  • Mainstreaming women’s role in the economy

Many women dominate in retail, peasant, trade, artisan, fisher folk, small- scale agriculture. 

Their role is understated and underestimated. There is no provision of care activities for these women in the markets or on the farms where they work. 

There is also a need to provide infrastructure for women to support their businesses. The development of rural infrastructure would go a long way in supporting women’s production and reproduction activities. 

Providing rural roads, piped water and electricity and cooking gas would also make household work easier and healthier.

  • Restoring the small-scale farmers’ faith in government institutions as well as in production and exchange 

Small-scale farmers need incentives and supportive infrastructure to move their goods from the farms to the markets. They need the restoration of the cooperative movement as a driving force of production and marketing. 

There is also a need to develop community harvest storage facilities to control wastage. Small-scale farmers’ motivation to farming needs to be revived so that they can work with enthusiasm and courage on the farms.

Microtechnologies for working on the farms need to be developed. 

Most of the farmers rely on hoes and knives, which are tiresome and energy-consuming. To solve this problem, micro-technologies like lawnmowers need to be developed for use on the farm. 

They will be healthier and will make work easy. The revival of the spirit of the small-scale farmer will also enhance food security through increased production. 

  • Engaging in practical research

Kenyan scientists and academe to cease being glorified research assistants in consultancies and research conceived elsewhere.

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They should develop models and programs that will help revive the economy. They should strive to rely on indigenous and local knowledge to formulate research problems that will help solve everyday lived issues.

The writer is an Independent Scholar at Beyond Knowledge Horizon. Her contact: marykinyanjui@yahoo.com

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