Why Human Capital Trumps Natural Resources In Kenya’s Development

timanThe recent discovery of oil and other minerals in Kenya shows that the cradle of mankind is still as wealthy of resources as ever. This wealth should translate into the well-being of population. We must therefore bring forth the underlying issues to help us craft ways to safeguard our new found wealth from destruction for the benefit of all and not just a greedy few.

From past experiences elsewhere in Africa, mineral wealth has been rather a curse, from Nigeria to DRC, Cameroon, Angola, Gabon and Zimbabwe, the rich mineral fields have been used by the powerful for personal use, exploitation, gain and for political rewards to allies, thereby stagnating development.

We must craft strategy through legal framework, where wealth acquired through these minerals, finds it way to helping the poor lead a better life. The best method would be through a person-centered approach, where the person is the target of development. Let’s talk a little about Kenya’s Turkana areas where there are newly discovered oil fields. The proceeds from these resources should lead to better roads, equipped health facilities, better schools with equipped libraries – all of which are key for human flourishing.

The same should apply to Kitui residents where coal deposits have recently been discovered.

Kenya must realize her main economic driver is her abundant human resources. The wealth discovered through the minerals need to be managed, since oil is a non renewable energy, priority should be given to human needs when minerals are extracted. This includes better and quality education, food preparedness for drought and equipped health facilities. When the wells dry up, local population should be equipped with an educated and skilled population capable of engaging in more creative industries.

Finally, Kenyans need to STOP using tribes or ethnicities as the only means to rise to the presidency of a country, where in most cases it is done for personal gratification. Tribe/ethnicity/culture has nothing to do with the leadership ability of a person. Kenya is one large tribe, with two sub-categories the haves and the haves not. The best suited leader for all, is the one who will help bridge the gap between the two groups and bring about prosperity, sustainable development and prioritize a person-centered development.

Timan Gathonjia is a member of World Youth Alliance and soon-to-be Intern at WYA Africa office.