Today’s expectations from Ruto as he address the citizens

 Jamhuri Day celebrations in 1963, Kenya marked a significant milestone as it transitioned from British occupation to becoming a republic. Jomo Kenyatta, revered as the father of the nation, made a solemn promise to combat three formidable adversaries – poverty, disease and ignorance.President William Ruto takes centre stage today at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi to lead the nation in marking the 60th Jamhuri Day celebrations, he faces a nation seeking empathy amidst what has undeniably been one of the most challenging years in recent Kenyan history.President Ruto’s ascent to power last year, at the age of 55, symbolised a generational shift in Kenya’s political landscape, but he finds himself grappling with the same enduring issues as his predecessors, with his first year in power turning out to be a baptism by fire, as he confronts a multitude of pressing challenges.

In his first State of the Nation address, President William Ruto, who has always maintained that some of the painful decisions he has made like increasing taxes are meant to save the economy, admitted that putting the country back on the right track will not be an easy job.

The Kenya’s economy is currently saddled a Sh10 trillion debt, most of it from foreign lenders and accrued during tenure of the then President Uhuru Kenyatta for the funding of infrastructure. Data from the Treasury and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) place Kenya’s debt stock at Ksh10.189 trillion ($69.3 billion) at the end of June 2023 in contrast to Ksh8.579 trillion ($58.4 billion) in June last year.

Various analysts have projected a potential debt repayment crunch in 2024 when the first instalment of the Sh304 billion Eurobond debt repayment falls due in June, putting more pressure on Kenya’s forex exchange reserves.

With an impeding debt repayment crisis next year amid a high cost of living, the Kenyan economy is not out of the woods yet and Kenyans will be hoping that President Ruto in his Jamhuri Day address to the nation provides a clear pathway on how to get out of the current turbulence.

Like his predecessors Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto’s speech will most likely be a long way from not offering solutions on how to end poverty.

Kenyans will expect to receive a speech that will be of change to their lives in which no one can predict what is to be communicated today.

The Hustler Fund has so far disbursed Sh39.7 billion to 21.8 million people and mobilised Sh2 billion in savings.

Yet despite some of these positive changes, the cost of living remains a huge problem for most households. The raft of new taxes and levies introduced by Kenya Kwanza over the past one year have made life even more difficult for Kenyans than it was last year.

“Resolving Kenya’s economic hardships has proved a hard nut to crack. Just over a year since he was sworn in, Ruto is no nearer to turning the Kenyan ship around,” wrote Westen Shihalo, a Senior Research Fellow, Institute for PanAfrican Thought and Conversation (IPATC), University of Johannesburg in his analysis of Ruto’s first year in office.


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