As a critical national exercise, the on-going census should provide imperative data needed to formulate strong
and long-lasting economic policies. essentially, information gathered and documented from this exercise should enable us to come up with economic frameworks that outlast the typical 5-year election cycle.
Evidence-based decision-making is a globally recognized approach in the efficient management of a coun- try’s resources. It is also a measuring stick on the progress of set economic targets, population growth and impact on the economy, as well as, political and social-cultural changes that have eventually shaped the trends of differ- ent demographics economy-wise.
Whilst this is the sixth national census since independence, it is the first that the country has under- taken since the introduction of the devolved system of governance. Hence, in addition to providing key information on the above on a broader national level, this year’s census will be pivotal in examining
the extent to which fiscal and pub- lic policies are either catalysing or impeding growth at the county level. In order to chart an economi- cally sustainable path forward for this country for the next 10 years and more, insights from census data analysis should be front and centre in national discussions, and more so, those between government and industry. together we will need to review our policy development in
For example, we have been talking about a demographic dividend that the country can take advantage of to boost its economy; but what is the status of this demographic? What is their level of education? What are their skills? Where are they? can they access and afford basic necessities?
In addition to this, other cru- factors that will surface is, for the understanding and use technology by different demo- , the rate of its adoption in and access to basic tech-
for everyday use. the data will also highlight factors around employment; what is the current status on the rate of unemployment? Where are the jobs? Are existing jobs stable?
If these numbers are to be con- sidered in policy-development spe- cifically with regard to economic sustainability, it could mean review- ing the current state of industry dispersion in the country and
how it can be improved in the counties, in order to increase the number of households across the country that have stable incomes.
Statistics will also assist poli- cy-makers to identify gaps in the value chain that have the great potential to boost our country’s com- petitiveness and grow our export markets.
Let’s say we analyse data from communities that successfully grow and sell fruits, and whether these activities provide consistent sources of income (as opposed to seasonal);
vis-à-vis investors in the country (and beyond) specializing in fruit processing and value-addition. We would then develop policy inroads, to encourage new factories to be set up in close proximity to these com-
munities, thereby making it possible for strong linkages to be established. economic activities such as these have a multiplier effect on society. they are likely to spur the growth of other sectors that feed into them. transfer and acquisition of new skills and technology will also take place as the demands of new jobs
census data will also shed light on existing businesses, especially Small and Medium enterprises. It will drive a crucial conversation on the definitions and classifications of these businesses, their capacity to formalize, be productive and profit- able. this will then form the basis of the institution of progressive and flexible policies that take into con- sideration unique challenges faced
by SMes, especially women-owned and led enterprises. It would create an opportunity to interrogate cur- rent approaches towards SMes and subsequently, inform either a need to revise or bolster them with the future in mind.
the census is an opportunity for the country to pause, take a look back over the past 10 years and chart a way forward for the next 10 and more. It is an opportunity for us to drive issue-based national dia- logue on development, decentralize habitual politicking and focus on
The Writer is the CEO of kenya association of Manufacturers and the UN global Compact Representative for kenya. she can be reached at ceo@kam. co.ke.