Agenda for Active Policy Engagement
deliberate and determined strategy to truly forge One People from three groups of East Africans -the richest 10 per cent, the poorest 40 per cent and the middle majority – stands a good chance of leading to the One Destiny that is the destination to which all are travelling.
The State 12 of East Africa 2013
The second touches on degree to which government influences the activities of economic agents towards a set of specific objectives. Would a developmental state in East Africa, focused on economic development through proactive and direct interventions such as industrial policies, be more desirable than a regulatory approach that nudges an economic and social system towards a desired set of growth, integration, inclusion and equity objectives?
The third concerns the division of authority, decision-making and executive power between central and local government. Is government action most inclusive, equitable and effective when it is conceived, decided upon and executed centrally or locally?
Two Basic Realities
This State of East Africa Report argues that the extent of inequality is driven by what happens at the tail ends of the income distribution. Therefore, the ‘average’ East African, who monopolizes the attention and affection of researchers, policymakers and marketers, exists only as a statistical being created by an arithmetic combination of millions of vastly different life experiences. In this context, the first reality is that policies aimed at improving inclusiveness and enhancing equity must be designed for the populations at the edges – the rich 10 per cent at the top and the poorest forty per cent at the bottom of the wealth distribution. Addressing inequality means tackling the marginalization faced by the poorest but also addressing the advantage enjoyed by the rich. In the political domain, for example, the conversation must revolve around empowering the poor by addressing the privilege of the powerful elites.
The second reality revolves around the challenge of effective implementation. East Africa is replete with well-articulated policies of every description. However, achieving their goals must overcome two obstacles: the absence of political will and weak capacity for effective policy execution. These two ingredients – will and skill – are vital to the success of any effort to transform the region.
Fortunately, the growing number and vibrant youthfulness of East Africa’s people suggests that the supply of both will and skill is as limitless as the region’s potential.