The Laikipia County Government has embarked on an ambitious programme to use statistical data to prioritise investments and determine the allocation of tax revenues.
While launching the county’s Statistical Abstract, 2019, Governor Ndiritu Muriithi said the data will guide the government as well as investors on where to invest their money and other resources.
“The document will help us design data-based solutions that can work. It will guide investors on available opportunities and places to invest in. The data will also help us streamline service delivery, welfare for our staff and prudent resource management,” said Mr Muriithi during the launch of the document by Treasury Chief Administrative Secretary Nelson Gaichuhie on Friday.
Mr Muriithi noted that failure to use data in the past has spawned inequality in staff salaries with numerous instances where support staff earned higher pay than professionals in the same departments.
“We have tens of staff earning decent salaries for doing nothing or for jobs that do not exist. With this data, taxpayers will be able to decide if it is prudent for them to keep paying levies where 60 percent pays salaries for skills that we do not need,” he said.
The 2018 Gross County Product (GCP) report published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that Laikipia’s GCP was Sh81 billion by last December.
“Laikipia’s economy is fairly diversified, with the lead sector agriculture contributing 44 percent of the GCP valued at Sh35 billion. The top six sectors are agriculture, wholesale and retail trade, financial and insurance services, public administration and defence, transport and storage and construction,” said Mr Muriithi.
Economist David Ndii, noting that industrialisation was only contributing marginally to the county’s economy, challenged the region’s leaders to prioritise value addition for agriculture and livestock products to boost employment and grow the county’s economy.
According to the GCP report, manufacturing was ranked at position 14 in productivity, just slightly better than accommodation and food services activities (16th) and mining and quarrying at position 17 despite their high potential to create more wealth in the county.
Mr Muriithi said the GCP findings will provide the devolved government, private and non-profit sectosr with a deeper understanding of Laikipia’s economy as well as social-economic needs of the people.
“The data outlined herein contributes to our ongoing endeavour to consistently use verifiable evidence to make informed decisions. In line with the 2019 County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP), my government will focus on a few sectors and products that evidence indicates this county can produce competitively,” he said.
According to him, the county has embarked on a programme to encourage the mass production of its locally-developed small car, known as the BJ-50, in partnership with the Kimathi University.
The launch of the statistical abstract coincided with a two-day innovation fair during which over 100 small companies as well as individuals showcased their innovations, including motorised wheelchairs, wines made from cactus and building technologies.
James Mathenge, the CEO of the Laikipia County Development Authority, said some of the innovators have been facilitated to obtain patents for their products in readiness for partnerships to help them scale up and commercialise production.
Areas captured in the statistical abstract as most improved include revenue collection that improved from Sh350 million in 2015/2016 fiscal year to Sh470 million and Sh610 million in 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 fiscal years.