5 April 2019

Kenya: State of the Nation 2019 - Did Kenyatta Get His Facts Right?

Photo: Jeff Angote/Daily Nation
President Uhuru Kenyatta delivering his State of the Nation Address at Parliament Buildings on April 4, 2019.

Claims

Five claims about the government's achievements

Source: Uhuru Kenyatta, 2019 State of the Nation Address

Verdict

One correct, two mostly correct, one incorrect and one misleading.

Researched by Africa Check, Kenya

Under public pressure to rein in corruption, Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta promised an "all-out assault" as he delivered his sixth state of the nation address in April 2019.

But as he listed the achievements of his administration in parliament, was he on target with his facts? We checked.

The economy

Claim

"Our broad-based economic growth averaged 5.6% over the last five years... "

Verdict

correct

In 2013, the year the president took office, the Kenyan economy grew 5.9%, and 5.4% in 2014, according to data from the national statistics office.

The economic survey 2018 shows economic growth was 5.7% in 2015, 5.9% in 2016 and 4.9% in 2017.

The average over those five years works out to 5.56%. We therefore rate the president's figure as correct. -Alphonce Shiundu

Claim

"... outperforming the average global growth."

Verdict

misleading

Kenyatta said the rate the Kenyan economy grew at had outpaced the world.

According to the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook update in January 2019, the world economy grew 3.7% in 2018, a slight dip from 3.8% in 2017.

Additional data shows global growth was 3.2% in both 2015 and 2016, and 3.4% in 2014. In 2013 this was 3.2%. This averages to 3.36% between 2013 and 2017, which is well under Kenya's growth that same period. The figures appear to bear the president out.

But there's more. Is Kenya doing better than the rest of the world? We asked Kwame Owino, the chief executive of think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, Kenya for context.

'Compare ourselves with our peers'

The numbers are expected, Kwame said. This is because mature economies grow at a slower rate, having exhausted the capital and gains they can get from technology. But the US with 2% growth still created significantly more wealth than Kenya did with a 5.6% growth rate.

Kenya therefore needed to grow even faster to close the public welfare gap, Kwame said. But the broader comparison distorts the picture.

"It is misleading. We should compare our growth rates with our peers, people within our range," Kwame said.

For instance, according to World Bank data, in eastern Africa, over the last five years, Kenya's economy has been growing faster than Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, but slower compared to Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Claim

"In 2018, provisional estimates show the economy grew by 6.1%."

Verdict

mostly-correct

Kenya's statistics agency expects the economy to grow 6% in 2018. This is according to the national treasury's budget policy statement.

The economy grew 5.8% in the first three months of 2018, 6.2% in the second quarter and 6% in the third quarter of the year. This, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said, was due to "favorable weather conditions and a stable macroeconomic environment".

The Parliamentary Budget Office - a non-partisan office that advises lawmakers on the economy - mirrored this forecast in March 2019.

In a forecast the same month, the World Bank predicted 5.8% growth for the year. This would be due to "recovery in agriculture, better business sentiment, and easing of political uncertainty".

For the economy to grow at 6.1%, growth for the last quarter will need to come in at 6.4%. But given the proximity of the other forecasts to the president's figure, which he noted was provisional, we rate this claim as mostly correct. - Alphonce Shiundu

County funding

Claim

"Since April 2013, more than KSh1.7 trillion shillings has been transferred to the counties."

Verdict

incorrect

In 2010, a new constitution provided for the creation of 47 county governments. The law provides for equitable sharing of money with the counties of "not less than 15%" of all revenue collected by the national government.

The Division of Revenue Acts show the total allocations to county governments were KSh 1.76 trillion. However, not all this money was actually transferred. The sums actually sent to the counties are captured by the office of the controller of budget. The treasury releases money to the county governments' accounts, but the controller of budget then finalises the transfer by allowing the counties to access the money.

Amounts to Kenya counties 2013-2019 (billions of shillings)

Year Total Allocation Treasury transfers to counties Approved by budget office

2013/2014 210 195.7 174.4

2014/2015 242.36 231.06 228.53

2015/2016 287.04 276.22 303.47

2016/2017 302.2 305.02 328.24

2017/2018 345.69 326.9 324.12

2018/2019* 372.74 177.31* 145.11**

TOTAL 1760.03 1512.22 1503.87

SOURCE: TREASURY, CONTROLLER OF BUDGET, PARLIAMENT *As of 28 February 2019. **Budget office, half-year 2018/19

The amount transferred to the counties as per the latest available figure is KSh1,503.87. The president's amount is thus off by KSh190 billion. We therefore rate the claim incorrect. -Vincent Ng'ethe

Housing

Claim

"Over 175,000 Kenyans have already registered under the voluntary scheme known as 'boma yangu."

Verdict

mostly-correct

Providing affordable housing is a key priority for Kenyatta's legacy. As part of this, the president noted that more than 175,000 Kenyans have registered for a plan to allocate houses.

Citizens are first required to sign up through a portal at no cost. This then allows them and their employers to contribute some of their income, up to a maximum of KSh2,500 a month. There's also a voluntary contribution that is not capped.

When the building of houses starts, the applicants will through a "regular, fair and transparent system free of any human intervention and contact" be allocated houses. This will depend on a number of factors such as when they listed, "family status as well as demand across the housing categories".

As of 4 April 2019 there were 186,256 registered applicants. While this is 11,000 more people, it is "over 175,000". The president actually missed the chance to announce a larger figure. - Alphonce Shiundu

Note: We are adding several more claims ranging from energy and small businesses to agriculture and county funding. Keep checking back.

More on This

Kenyatta Says War on Graft Will Be Guided By the Rule of Law

Walking a tightrope in his war on corruption, President Kenyatta chose safety over popularity. Facing a possible… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2019 Africa Check. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.