How successful has economic and social development in Kenya been since the year 2000?
This post has primarily been written for students studying the global development option for A-level sociology. The purpose of this post is to provide a specific example of a country which has, overall, experienced rapid and positive development over the last 20 years.
One of the key questions in this module is ‘what are the most effective strategies for development’ – one way of addressing this question is to explore further what development policies and initiatives have been applied in Kenya to promote positive development.
NB the purpose of this post is not to answer the question ‘why has Kenya developed economically and socially, but simply to provide a case study demonstrating the extent of the rapid progress according to many indicators of social and economic development.
Kenya in 2020: An Overview
Kenya is located in East Africa, with a population of just over 50 million people.
It is classified by the World Bank as a low to middle income country with a Gross National Income per capita of just over $1700.
Overall, Kenya has experienced positive economic and social development since the year 2000, as evidenced in the quadrupling of its GNI per capita during that time.
Social development has also been rapid: life expectancy has increased by 15 years since the year 2000, and both primary and secondary school enrolment ratios are significantly improved.
However, as some of the statistics below suggest there is still room for improvement and development challenges going forwards into the 2020s.
Kenyan Gross National Income per Capita as Quadrupled since the year 2000, from $400 to over $1700.
Kenya’s Debt as a percentage of its GNI has been relatively stable, and is currently low, at only 2.2% of GNI
Kenya’s Employment Ratio is high and has increased to 72.5% of the population
NB – this bucks the global trend of increasing levels of unemployment
Official Development Assistance to Kenya increased from $500 million in 2000 to $2.5 billion in 2018
This would suggest as far as Kenya is concerned that Aid has not retarded broader economic or social development.
Industrialisation and Urbanisation in Kenya
The breakdown of Kenya’s GDP is:
- Agriculture – 34%
- Industry – 17%
- Services – 47%
Kenya’s major exports remain agricultural products:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kenya_Exports_Treemap_2017.svg”>
In the year 2000 20% of Kenya’s population was rural, this has grown to 28% by 2020
Education Trends in Kenya
- Secondary School Enrolment increased from 39% in 2000 to 57% (2010)
- Tertiary Enrolment is currently at 9%
- NB the World Bank data on enrolment ratios is sketchy, there appear to be several data gaps!
Life Expectancy Trends
Life expectancy at birth has increased from 50 to 66 years in the last 20 years
Health and Sanitation Trends
- Approximately 4% of the population have HIV
- X percent have access to clean water
- Y percent have access to improved sanitation
Population and Birth Rate Trends
- Kenya’s Population increased by 20 million between the year 2000 and 2020, from 30 million to 50 million
- The Fertility Rate – decreased from 5.2 to 3.5 babies per woman
- Contraceptive prevalence increased from 39 to 61%
- The Infant mortality rate decreased from 99 per 1000 to 45 per thousand
Access to Technology Trends
- Mobile phone access increased from 0.4 to 96%
- Internet access increased from 0.3 to 22%
Kenya’s Peace levels, as measured by the Global Peace Index, have been up and down over the last decade, but have remained broadly stable over the 10 years since the index began.
Gender Equality Trends
Gender inequality seems to be a faltering point for Kenya. After some seemingly rapid progress in the last decade, gender equality has fallen back to almost the same level as in 2006.
Other notable development trends
- Kenya has had a net migration of minus 50 000 per year in recent years, combined with an increase of money received from abroad.
Conclusion: Is Kenya A Development Success Story?
Based on the above statistics it is easy to conclude that, overall, Kenya has seen a great deal of positive economic and social development – especially based on the measurements of GNI growth, life expectancy and education.
However, there are some areas where no significant development appears to have taken place – peacefulness and gender equality seem to be struggling for example.
NB – this is only a very brief look at some of the general statistics, so keep in mind that there will be regional variations and that not everyone would have benefitted equally from any development that has taken place.
Also, i haven’t tried to look at why development has (or hasn’t on some indicators) taken place in Kenya, just the statistics!