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Kenya’s Huge Inequality Gap

by Kwabe Ben

Despite the impressive economic growth witnessed in the country since 2005, poverty is still affecting millions of people’s lives.

There has been witnessed extreme inequality that is currently out of control in Kenya whereby a minority of wealthy individuals and investors are creaming off the yields of the country’s economic performance.

This has deemed it difficult for the fruits of economic growth to trickle down to the poorest. Hence a continuation of the same will mean for the following five years, 2.9 million more people could be living in extreme poverty.

Most of the minority are capturing the lion’s share of the benefits whereas millions of Kenyans languish in poverty left at the bottom.

According to Oxfam Organization;

  • Less than 0.1% of the population (8,300 people) own more wealth than the bottom 99.9% (more than 44 million people). The richest 10% of people in Kenya earned on average 23 times more than the poorest 10%.
  • The number of super-rich in Kenya is one of the fastest-growing in the world. It is predicted that the number of millionaires will grow by 80% over the next 10 years, with 7,500 new millionaires set to be created.
  • Corporate tax dodging is undermining Kenya’s tax base. Kenya is losing $1.1bn a year to tax exemptions and incentives – almost twice what the government spends on its entire health budget in 2015/16, in a country where mothers face a 1 in 40 chance of dying in childbirth.
  • Unequal access to opportunities, such as healthcare and education, is rife. Nearly one million primary school-aged children are still out-of-school – the ninth highest number of any country in the world. Kenya’s level of spending on education has gradually fallen each year since the early 2000s.
  • Despite some improvements in health status over the last decade, the government spends only 6% of its budget on health. A quarter of the Kenyan population regularly lacks access to healthcare. A recent study estimated that nearly 2.6 million people fall into poverty or remain poor due to ill health each year.
  • Gender inequality is prevalent in Kenya. Economic policy is not only creating extreme inequality but also holding back women’s economic empowerment. For example, despite 96% of Kenya’s rural women population working on farms, only 6% of the women in Kenya hold a title to land.

Due to the revelations, Oxfam Organization is urging for reduction to sustainable levels as the government needs to implement economic policies and legislation aimed at reforming the fiscal system.

There is an urgency in raising enough finance for free, quality public education as well as healthcare and to also bridge the gap of economic inequality for women. To achieve a more equal and prosperous future for all Kenyans.

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