By Salad Malicha
10th September 2018.
The impact of violent extremism in Kenya has escalated in the recent past due to dwindling socio- economic phenomenon. The primary effect of these have been most trickled down to infrastructure, physical and human capital, productivity and economic growth. Current high inflation and cost of living has exacerbated the already volatile situations. Furthermore, violent extremism in Kenya have increased uncertainty in the investment climate, disrupted household spending and livelihood, dissuaded foreign direct investment (FDI) and led to a reallocation of resources from growths enhancing investment to spending designed to increase national security which falls within the purview of the National Government.
It is important to highlight the glaring ripple effects of violent extremism on the Kenyan economy with specific focus on the uncertainty effects on the tourism sector, foreign direct investment, the Nairobi Stock Exchange, effects on resource allocations and economies of counties. The upsurge on violent extremism have led to destruction of infrastructure, physical and human capital with dire consequences on productivity and economic growth in the economy. Furthermore, the increase in the number of terrorism incidents has led to businesses facing higher operating costs including high insurance premiums, enhanced security measures, increase on taxes on goods and services and high labor costs to attract workers.
In urban areas, massive investments have gone into expensive installations such as security cameras, metal detectors and advanced security systems to avert terror attacks. Drawing from the current economic indicators in Kenya, this paper offers some policy implications to Kenya as high levels of multidimensional inequalities (socio-economic and political inequalities), high poverty levels and high youth unemployment are the key drivers of violent extremism.
Promoting socio-economic and political opportunities, including job opportunities, access to finance, access to education and health services among others, is important to prevent violent extremism in Kenya. This should be complemented by a labour-intensive growth model that generates rapid growth that is equitably distributed and generates employment for the economically challenged members of the society and youth. This is vital to reduce the supply of labour to prosecute terrorist attacks and violent extremism.
Empirical survey shows that there is direct relationship between violent extremism and youth radicalisation owing to high multidimensional inequalities, high poverty levels, and high youth unemployment. These inequalities has glaring consequences to high
poverty levels in certain regions of the country such as the North Eastern and the Coast regions of Kenya. High youth unemployment alienate communities, especially the unemployed youths who are easily recruited by ragtag vigilantes and organized militant groups.
Therefore, long and short term panacea to these worrying trends is through promotion of socio-economic promoting and political opportunities which includes; job opportunities, access to finance, access to education and health services among others, is important to prevent violent extremism and youth radicalization in Kenya. Moreover, this should be complemented by a labour-intensive growth model that generates rapid growth that is equitably distributed and generates employment for the peasants and youth. This is vital to reduce the supply of labour to prosecute violent extremism.
What this means in programmatic terms is that implementers of good governance programs in conflict-affected environments often find themselves balancing competing timelines to achieve similar ends. Both short-term stabilisation activities and longer-term institutional capacity building initiatives are designed to bolster state legitimacy, which is crucial to achieving governance reform.
Nonetheless, deciding when to apply each approach often depends on different perspectives of what the Violent extremism objectives are. Stabilisation activities are designed to support governing entities to fill a power vacuum where no other governing structure exists and non-state actors are likely to exploit citizen grievances for their own benefit. Capacity building activities are meant to help reform corrupt governing institutions and strengthen inefficient ones to bolster their local legitimacy.
Best practice often includes a strategic sequencing of these two efforts: using stabilisation programs to set the foundation upon which longer-term capacity development can build.