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The Big Four Agenda. Is it Achievable?

  May 25, 2018

The Big Four agenda has generated a lot of questions in the media, such as “does it replace Vision 2030? How is it going to get funded and is it attainable?

Dr. Julius Muia, Principal Secretary – State Department for Planning, at the National Treasury and Ministry of Planning gives insights on the outcomes expected from investments in the identified key pillars. Critics have argued that the “Big Four” is a very ambitious plan that will need considerable funding and support from the private sector. Dr. Muia provides insights on the role of the private sector in delivering the “Big Four” and the regulatory/policy changes that are currently underway to facilitate the implementation of the agenda.

The following are his remarks:

The “Big Four” Agenda is the Government’s set of priority programs and reforms, which will be implemented over a period of five years, that is, from 2018 to 2022.” The Big 4 Four Agenda comprises:

(i) Manufacturing; (ii) Food and nutrition; (iii) Housing; and (iv) Universal Healthcare coverage for all Kenyans.
The first two are sectors in the Economic Pillar of Vision 2030 and the last two are sectors in the Social Pillar of Vision 2030.

1. One of the goals of the Big Four Agenda is increasing the manufacturing sector’s share of GDP from about 9% in 2017 to 15 percent in 2022, through interventions that support value addition. To boost the growth of manufacturing, the Government will focus on the following sub-sectors: agri-processing, leather, textiles/apparels, oil, mining and gas, and iron and steel as well as production of construction materials. Other key areas will include investing in ICT, promoting ease of doing business, establishing industrial parks/zones, promoting market access and fish processing. Specific measures and incentives will be implemented to boost these subsectors and increase job creation

2. Under the food and nutrition security agenda, the goal is to achieve food and nutrition security for all Kenyans by 2022. The Government will focus on three broad areas in 2018, namely: enhancing large-scale production; boosting smallholder productivity; and reducing the cost of food. Over the next five years, specific initiatives will be implemented across the three broad areas.

3. The government commits to Universal Health Coverage (now at 38%) so that all Kenyans have access to affordable healthcare. To realize this objective, the Government will focus on reconfiguring the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and reforming the governance of private insurance companies. In particular, the Government will review and amend the NHIF Act to align it to the universal health coverage as well as review the laws governing private insurance companies to encourage investment by private health insurers and bring the cost of cover within the reach of every Kenyan. This agenda recognizes that health is a devolved function.

4. In the housing sector the goal is to build 500,000 units of affordable housing units to improve the living conditions for Citizens. The Government is keen on delivering the housing units by 2022 in major cities across the country. This will provide decent homes, create an additional 350,000 jobs, provide market for manufacturers and suppliers and raise the contribution of real estate and construction sector from 7% in 2017 to 14 % of GDP. To achieve this objective, the Government will implement policy and administrative reforms which are targeted at lowering the cost of construction and improving accessibility of affordable mortgages. The focus will be on raising low-cost funds from public and private sectors for investment in large-scale housing production

5. This Big Four Agenda has been integrated into the Third Medium Term Plan of Kenya’s long-term development blueprint – the Kenya Vision 2030 which is set to be launched in the next few weeks. This MTP III is expected to consolidate the significant achievements of the Economic Transformation Agenda that has been implemented since 2008 under Vision 2030. The goal of the Kenya Vision 2030 is to create ‘a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life by 2030’.
6. It is important to note that the Big Four Agenda is not a substitute but a fast-tracking strategy for Vision 2030, and therefore it has been integrated into the Third Medium Term Plan. The proposals in the Big four were already priority areas under Vision 2030 and the Big Four Agenda provides a means of fast-tracking these flagships

One of the main strategies the Government is banking on in the provision of public goods under the “Big Four” Agenda and infrastructure development is through the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) Framework. It is important to note that there are already successful PPPs in Energy, Telecommunications, Transport, Water and Sewerage sectors in Kenya. Following this trend, in addition to an enabling legal framework of the PPP Act (2013), the Government has lined up a large number of PPP projects for the period 2018-2020. There are more proposed PPPs in the MTP III which capture those programs/projects under the “Big Four” Agenda.

Another strategy that the Government has employed is to create enablers in sectors like manufacturing to reduce business risks and thereby attract private investments. The Government has a range of initiatives and activities in line with this. These include but are not limited to: (a) concessions on power pricing for heavy industry; (b) export marketing strategies; (c) preference for locally manufactured goods in government procurement; (d) providing relevant training and skills; (e) physical infrastructure development; and (f) reviewing work permit policy for expatriates.

In conclusion, Dr. Julius Muia reiterated that the Big four agenda is basically a blueprint to propel Kenya into a middle-level economic country.

The over-arching Mission of Strathmore Business School is Service to Society through Executive Management and Leadership training. SBS through its Center for Business Journalism (CBJ), has delivered executive programmes specifically targeting business and finance journalists that aim to improve their critical analysis skills when reporting on business issues in Kenya.

The Media policy Breakfast sessions are funded by Business Advocacy Fund (BAF).
BAF supports private-public dialogue through business associations interested in advocating for improvements in the business environment in Kenya. These breakfast forums are therefore expected to encourage journalists to write or broadcast more stories about the importance of the private sector in creating jobs and wealth and hence the need to improve the business enabling environment.

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