Character is best exemplified in times of tragedy and adversity. The Westgate Mall hostage situation has certainly brought out the true character of who Kenyans are. Words like patriotic, selfless, humane, hard working, diligent and thoughtful illustrate the kindness being shown by people of diverse creed, religion, ethnicity, class and background.
When such unfortunate events happen, there is obviously an increase in the need for expertise across different industries on matters security. Even companies like insurance will come up with packages to for such events.
It is also obvious that the government will increase its security spending on technology and human resources. It is therefore all the more reason that the monies allocated to the security sector be disclosed for public scrutiny to ascertain whether the funds allocated are commensurate with the quality and service levels taxpayers should and are receiving.
While government resources are limited and should be shared across all sectors, too few objections will be raised as and when the allocations to the security sector are raised in the coming supplementary budget and future budgets.
It is critical that the government thinks outside the box in funding the security sector. The constant reliance on revenues from taxes, levies and donors should be thoroughly thought through. There are numerous ways in which the security sector can be ingenious and employ ways of ensuring that on the one hand it still maintains its role but also has other ways to compete favorably with other budgetary allocations.
A public institution can set up a private arm to help it fund its budgetary needs and compete favorably with the private sector. Talking the security sector for instance, it is possible for the Kenya Defense Forces and administration police to think through farming for instance.
There are huge tracks of land lying idle in different parts of the country. How about leasing these lands to them and they plant various crops both for export and internal consumption. The priority could be basic commodities like maize and beans for own consumption. This would mean that they will slowly and steadily reduce the reliance to buy them.
In due time and with lessons learnt, they would diversify and include crops like tea, coffee, sugarcane, rice and even the horticulture industry. The military is known for its efficiency and would thrive in this making considerable profit primarily for expenditures on their salaries, human resource and military artillery to be used in such times like this and many other security challenges in future.
In addition, the construction sectors like roads have seen more road contracts advanced to foreigners due to shoddy work by our local contractors. The security sector can take up this challenge and bid favorably to construct roads, railways, bridges and even airports. By starting small, learning and going ahead with larger constructs with improved efficiencies; both government and private sector would feel the need to use them.
This offers good and reliable income primarily for the security sector. Certainly where they have surpluses, they can be used especially within government for development purposes.
This approach will not be totally new or unheard off say in military practice around the world. Without going far, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) has done this over the years and today, they export commodities like maize earning them foreign exchange critical to buying military artillery.
It can even work like barter trade. We export to you some agreed crops and value them and in exchange, get equipment. It is a very practical way for primarily funding the security sector. Even those whose currently benefit in cartels can always be creative enough and find new ways within the system.
It can create a whole ecosystem that thrives and offer so much purpose for the lives of Kenyans and today. When you think of vision 2030, it is in such ways that development can be real, local, progressive and achievable without necessarily relying on foreigners to support us especially budgetary. Political will is what is needed to realize such a move.
The writer is a co-founder Jimbo Focus.