ODM leader Raila Odinga has said industrialisation will be driven by technology and not the bottom-up economic model.
Speaking during the launch of the one-stop-shop digital platform for business information dubbed Investera Plus Africa, Raila urged leaders to invest in infrastructure.
“I believe the fourth industrial revolution will be driven by technology and not telling people about wheelbarrows. We need to embrace the idea of Investera Plus Africa,’’ said Odinga.
Deputy President William Ruto has been popularising the bottom-up economic model, which has drawn criticism from many people among them Amani National Congress party leader Musalaia Mudavadi.
Kenya is focused on the fourth industrial revolution through automation of traditional manufacturing practices, using smart technology.
Among the government’s target is the development of the iron and steel industry through the establishment of an integrated steel mill.
Development of small and medium enterprise (SME) parks, industrial and technology parks, and industrial manufacturing clusters are also other ways. Raila, who is Africa Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development, emphasised the need for the country to invest more in infrastructure for meaningful development.
“As you know, infrastructure is crucial to any development and helps open up a country for investment and development. One way of solving a country’s problems is therefore investing in infrastructure,’’ he said. He blamed unequal international trade volumes, saying Europe has 70 per cent, intra-Asia (50), South America (25) and Africa (15) due to lack of infrastructure.
“That’s why I am fighting so hard to fast-track some of the intercontinental infrastructure development like highways, railway lines, information communication technology links, open air space among others,’’ said Odinga.
He said the recently launched African Union’s African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which creates a market of 1.3 billion people, will not be successful if infrastructure issue is not dealt with. Raila also called upon the government to create policies and laws that protect interests of local business people against manipulation by foreign firms.
“It is laudable that Investera Plus Africa has come with capital and technology to partner with people here. However, there must be certain regulations to protect the interests of our people so that our people are not used as vehicles to create a monopoly here and in the end, profits are repatriated to pay their shareholders back home. Let them come and make profits but not at the expense of our people,’’ said Raila.”
He cited United Arab Emirates(UAE) and Dubai, which he said have laws that are helping the country achieve such. “So why can’t we also come up with such laws that protect the interests of our people?” posed Raila.
He said many young people who come up with innovations are poor because their ideas are stolen by foreign firms.
Businessman Jimi Wanjigi welcomed Raila during the launch of the United Arabs Emirates-based company in Nairobi.
Also present were Chief Administrative Secretary for Industrialisation trade and development David Osiany, Principal Secretary, ICT, Jerome Ochieng and his housing counterpart, Charles Hinga.
‘‘We have some of the brightest minds and hardworking people in the world and our ideas have been taken away because maybe we don’t have money but ideas and visions are money. We must stop this drain now. In other countries, they protect it by having 51 per cent of shareholding. We must have laws that allow 51 per cent of local ownership,’’ said Wanjigi.