The year is coming to an end and it would be worthwhile to take stock of the various factors that shaped the year 2016. Sadly, the media was constantly awash with news that depicted gloom and desperation. Such factors are likely to feature prominently in 2017. Most notable was news relating to security challenges, corruption, rising cost of living and the ever-rising political temperatures.

Despite several development projects like the ongoing construction of the standard gauge railway, the expansion of various highways and bypasses to ease traffic congestions, the successful implementation of the last mile connectivity programme among many others, negative issues were given prominence. Needless to mention, the above-mentioned initiatives have had their fair share of challenges including court injunctions.

Security challenges
Until 1998, majority of Kenyans had only heard of terror attacks and terrorism during international news bulletins. The only other major explosions that had been experienced and were worth recognition were the Norfolk Hotel bombing and OTC bus terminal bomb blast. The 1998 twin bomb blast that targeted the United States of America embassies in Nairobi and Dar es salaam left the East African nations wounded and devastated.

Never before had the region lost so many lives in a single instance. Later on, as terrorist got international sympathizers and their activities took worldwide perspective, nations around the world have experienced varying degrees of terror atrocities. Kenya has repeatedly been targeted and has suffered greatly in the circumstances. Our economy has had to endure the repercussions of these heinous activities.

For instance, the cost of installing various security features within the business premises is an expensive affair leave alone the cost of having security personnel manning the areas round the clock. The small and medium enterprises that have had to contend with the situation are most affected given their meager resources. In addition, international investors interested in initiating business enterprises within our country need to be assured that everything is under control. Fortunately, the government has made several strides in containing the situation and seems to have subdued the enemies. We can only hope that this will be sustained in the long run.

On the other hand, attacks on enterprises by gun-wielding gangsters especially small traders dealing with agency banking and mobile money transfer services is quite prevalent. Criminalities of whatever nature negatively affect the working environment and no matter where an attack occurs in the world, the feelings it elicits are mutual - revulsion, shock, dread and uncertainty.

Corruption
No matter how much one tries to avoid this topic, it’s impossible due to its devastating effect on the economy. During the year, various corruption scandals were unearthed. Although our attention has been fixated on departments and individuals aligned with the national government, audit reports indicate that county governments have been hotbeds of underhand dealings. Unfortunately both the ruling party and the opposition have both been implicated and the fight has taken a political dimension. This being an electioneering period, we can expect accusations and counter-accusations to be heightened come next year.

Notwithstanding that various government arms have been working tirelessly to assure ‘Wanjiku’ that all will be well, much more needs to be done. The institutions charged with monitoring spending and other oversight roles must strengthen their resolve like the way the Central Bank of Kenya has asserted itself into streamlining the financial sector and is doing a commendable job.

Cost of living
Despite various statistics indicating that the country’s economic status was on the growth trajectory, the situation on the ground seem to contradict this diction. ‘Wanjiku’ has continued to languish in poverty. The cost of living is getting unbearable by the day and Kenyans have to toil endlessly to make ends meet. The business operating environment has not been spared as witnessed by some industries closing shop and thousands of jobs have unfortunately been lost. Policy makers need to move with haste to arrest the situation.

Politics
Politicians believe we eat and dream politics but nothing could be further from the truth. Politicians thrive on our ignorance and so they engage in politically charged rallies at the expense of policy development. When an anomaly of whichever nature is detected from within the government, we call for demonstrations and related civil activities where the real issues get laced with political undertones that unfortunately hinder economic growth.

Sadly, like has been our tradition, tribal formula will continue reigning supreme even in the coming elections. There have been calls by some leaders for us to engage in ideological politics based on policies. This would offer the electorate a chance to gauge parties and their leadership based on the anticipated administration they are likely to pursue. This would render tribally-oriented and irresponsible comments irrelevant.

Kenya has set several precedents of development and it would be awesome for us to lead in having an electioneering period which is issue-based. The developed nations have tried but still have difficulties if the United States elections and Brexit referendums are anything to go by.

The decision is upon us Kenyans to make decisions based on ideologies. It won’t be easy but we should pray for wisdom to make correct judgments and strength to endure difficulties in transition.

Our economic development prospect is bright and can be improved if we address security issues, fight corruption decisively, improve the business operating environment and most importantly elect visionary leaders.
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Since the beginning of the long December holidays for school going children, there has been hue and cry from parents lamenting that the government had sort of punished them by allowing the children to be home for far too long. Granted, the holiday is unusually long but it’s an opportunity for the children to bond with their parents and parents to play their role of parenting.

It is unfortunate that most parents have relegated this noble duty to either teachers or the house helps. Parents be advised, teachers have their children whom they are also struggling to parent and the house-helps may be in dire need of parenting themselves. Stand out and take control of your children’s destiny. It’s within your power.

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