OPINION: Let’s support war on graft as we build ‘Made in Kenya’ brand


OPINION: Let's support war on graft as we build 'Made in Kenya' brand
Hundreds of staffers stitch and work on a production line at the United Aryan (EPZ) Ltd at Babadogo, Nairobi. PHOTO| PSCU

By Michael Cherambos

In these times of mass production, real quality is hard to come by. I personally find that the best quality products can still be found in the markets, where true artists sell goods they built with their own hands. But on a global scale, there is one nation which stands more for quality in manufacturing than any other: Germany.

This image was mainly perpetuated all over the world by the little stamp added to all of their products: Made in Germany. From construction materials to kitchen appliances, and of course cars, people across the globe trust a product designed and created by a people renowned for their precision, order and commitment to quality.

Fewer people though know the origin of this merchandise mark: Fearful of their local market, the UK Parliament ruled towards the end of the 19thcentury that imported goods from Germany must bear the label “Made in Germany”. This was intended not as an affirmation of quality, as it later became, but rather to ward off potential buyers.

Yet little did they know that instead of protecting their local production and decreasing German imports through this labelling, they instead created a proof of quality that to this very day, people go out of their way to buy.

By now, “Made in Germany” has become synonymous with good quality in all areas of life. Germany is the leader of Europe, a shining democracy in search of international cooperation instead of the confrontation of old. They welcome refugees from regions struck by disaster all over the world and take good care of them.

They provide many young immigrants with opportunities, educational as well as commercial. Since the end of the Second World War, they have built strong institutions which are highly effective in ensuring integrity and preventing corruption, thus ensuring their economic success.

When this is all taken into account, we understand what a significant and proud moment it was for our country when German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently visited our shores. Of course, we don’t forget that Germany was one of the first countries in the world to recognise our independence from the British colonisers.

They have also, in the past, provided crucial development aid for major projects that have greatly contributed to our growth. Yet, we are turning a new page, and are on our way to becoming a middle-income nation by 2030. Thus today, instead of humanitarian aid, what we need is foreign direct investment into our economy, on an equal standing and as partners.

Steinmeier knows this. He has vast experience in the changing world in general and the rise of Africa in particular, dating back to his time as Germany’s Foreign Minister. Therefore, his warm words should give us hope and fill us with pride.

Regarding the vile evil of corruption, which has held us back for so long, he stated that “Often, obstacles are expected that no longer exist”. He thus encouraged Germans and Europeans to take a fresh look at Kenya so they can be convinced that this is the best place in Africa to do business in 2020.

Just ten years ago, it would have been hard to image a similar statement from a Western head of state visiting Kenya. Fortunately, ever since the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013, our government has been led by people who take the fight against graft seriously, and see in it their mission and duty to the sovereign – us.

Indeed, Steinmeier commended Uhuru’s efforts and encouraged him to fight on. I am quite sure that he doesn’t need the words of the mzungu; almost every day, we read in the newspaper about another kingpin arrested, indicted or trialled. Not even the Governor of Nairobi was off limits for Uhuru’s men!

Yet this successful state visit does show us just how important the fight against graft is to the global business community. Steinmeier pointed out that the steady eradication of corruption is a prerequisite for increasing investment by German companies in Kenya.

Thus, we too have to support our government in any form we can – by voting against corrupt politicians, by reporting cases of graft wherever we meet them, by supporting the journalists uncovering scandals.

This is the only way to ensure our prosperity for the years to come. And once we have eradicated graft from the midst of our society, “Made in Kenya” will be a label consumers across the world will vie for.

Michael Cherambos comments on topical socio-political issues; Michaelcherambos1@gmail.com

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