Leadership and governance were pivotal components lacking throughout this case in Nairobi. Over the course of sixteen years, there was an issue with blackouts and the government’s slow progress to correct the problem, made the issue worse. The Kenyan people put their trust in their leaders, but the leaders were not holding themselves accountable. The transparency of the situation could have been handled better to produce a better outcome by being honest and having more integrity about the situation.
After the first failure in 1997, it was clear that the government did not have a true plan for combating this issue and their obligation to the people was not a high priority.
Prior to 2006, before the Ministry of Energy Murungi accepted his position, the government could have created a narrow contingency plan that outlined measures that should be taken to identify the sources for the power outages. This plan could have included a needs assessment, a qualitative survey from neighborhoods impacted the most, the root causes, and/or ideas of how to approach the new plan.
According to Yimer (2015), one of the major challenges that have faced African states since the advent of political independence has been establishing and sustaining appropriate governance institutions and practices that would engender democratic practices and promote sustainable development on the continent (p. 129). The government had multiple opportunities between the first and second blackout to devise a backup plan. They could have also been proactive and connected with other countries who may have encountered the same issues and it was a chance to involve other employees (outside of his assistant) asking for their feedback on the issue to get more ideas to strategize moving forward.
Although all ideas may not have worked the effort to involve them in the process would have created a comradery and ideas would have been ongoing to ensure the situation was moving in the right direction.
During this time of unfortunate occurrences, the people looked to the government for reassurance but were greeted with inconsistent information. As Krawczyk & Sweet-Cushman (2017) stated,
Citizen participation in local government can improve the management of public resources, reduce corruption by increasing the accountability of public servants and political leaders, and have a positive impact on democracy by supporting the inclusion of marginalized groups, building civic skills and conceptions of democratic citizenship, and contributing to policy feedback and improved policy outcomes (cited by Avritzer, 2002; Haque, 2003; Michels and De Graaf, 2010) (p. 137).
When people are involved in a process of any sort they are invested, and they want the best to come out of the task at hand. They are filled with more pride than before because they are proud of their country but now they know firsthand what it takes and can tell people how they helped to make their country even better.
As much as countries all over rely on technology and machines to create and produce, they need to be looked after as well. Things happen and go wrong all the time, in the case of blackouts, and the equipment should have been monitored more closely. Trained professionals or engineers were needed to assist with any substation failures and should have been working alongside the Minister after the first mishap occurred.
In order for the government to implement good governance policies, government officials must be on the same page, so they can build trust among the people. Krawczyk & Sweet-Cushman (2017) reported that good governance principles common in literature, and in normative discussions, include: citizen participation; transparency and accountability; equity; ethical behavior; responsiveness; effectiveness; and efficiency (cited by Kim et al., 2005) (p.138). The Government of Kenya (GoK) and the Ministry of Energy should have taken the time to create a strategic plan that included a SWOT analysis to have in place in case the blackout occurred again. Bryson & Edwards (2017) defined strategic planning as a “deliberative, disciplined effort to produce decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization or other entity is, what it does, and why it does it” (cited in Bryson, 2011, p.7-8) (p.2). One of the countries having success with their strategic planning is the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and the GoK could inquire about the strategic development plan that they have in place until 2040. This plan includes very ambitious social and economic aspirations (cited in Government of South Sudan 2013). The GoSS identified infrastructure as one of the pillars for its economic development. The plan put forth in Sudan allowed them to form new relationships with neighboring countries by creating agreements to gain access to skills in exchange for natural resources (cited by Thompson and Strickland 2004) (Nassif, Stewart, Mutepfe, & Christou, 2016, p. 2). Collaborating with Sudan can allow the GoK to use this plan as a guide and outline their own strategic development plan tailored to their specific needs that would include as much information that will prevent blackouts, include ways to improve the current infrastructure and future plans to develop new infrastructure. Also, they can identify donor countries and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that could provide support for them as they add metric to the goals to address issues that may arise.
The best way to prevent a never-ending cycle of unsuccessful measures for the future is by training up the next generation of leaders by offering them opportunities in different tracks surrounding government entities. Yimer (2015), notes that the African Leadership Forum (2013) recommends holding the “African Leadership Forum” – a series which may be national, sub-regional, regional, and international in dimension and may vary in duration. The purpose is to acknowledge the awareness of young, potential African leaders, playing special emphasis on diagnosing apparent failures of the past; understanding multiple and complex interrelations of local, national, regional and global problems while seeking approaches and solutions (p. 134).
For many years Africa has had their fair share of corruption in their government but as times are changing and the next generation are becoming more knowledgeable, their time to step up is now. The next generation of leaders should have the opportunity to understand the proper ways to lead. The immediate task of leadership in Africa is to restore hope, pull the people out of the pit, rescue people from the ravages of military dictatorship and protect unconstitutional removal of leaders from their legitimate positions (Yimer, 2015, p. 134).
As the Government of Kenya moves forward with their short-term actions, some long-term measures they can implement overtime would be conducting assessments and surveys with other countries to determine how their government supports the efforts toward efficient energy. One country that would be a good steward Nigeria is a good country to build those connections with to learn more about Renewable Energy (RE) and how it can benefit the country. According to Aliyu, Dada, & Adam (2015) the Nigerian government has recognized the important role the RE would play in overcoming the present energy crisis and therefore intensifies its efforts by promoting the RE in the country through the development of various energy reforms, policies and legislation (p. 337). As the government puts effort into trying to create a better solution to the problem, the more the people will increase their faith with the government. Aliyu, Dada & Adam (2015) include that the Government of South Africa has introduced several policies to support RE such as feed-in tariffs that require national electricity utility Eskom, to purchase RE from qualifying generators at predetermined prices (cited by Krupa & Burch, 2011; Msimanga & Sebitosi, 2014; & Walwyn & Brent, 2015, p. 343). Another program that has been successful would include Ghana’s Renewable Energy Development Program which is aimed to assess the availability of renewable energy resources and to examine the technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness of RE technologies in the country among other goals (p. 343).
Technology has improved tremendously over the years and African countries are behind in acquiring the latest models, however; government officials can adopt techniques that will allow the country to take the steps to become more efficient in most needed areas. Developing energy infrastructure that will leverage emerging international technological trends to build local, low-carbon development pathways. If implemented correctly by government officials such approach may offer economic advancement and indigenous value creation, avoiding the risk of investing in emission intensive fossil-based energy technologies (Mutanga, Quitzow, & Steckel, 2018, p. 5).
As government officials shift their focus to the people they are serving, they can ensure that they are being held accountable and development models are being met. Mutanga, Quitzow, & Steckel (2018), indicate that leaders should address the needs of the population living in slums and promote smart and sustainable urban planning (p. 7). Most of the Kenyan inhabitants live in the slums and instead of the government exiling them and punishing them they can provide them with a way to overcome. Urban planning has been a model within the African government for decades however; the periods of time when the war and colonization occurred, the meaning and purpose altered. The concept of urban planning is about people so when not facilitate properly the most valued piece is left out. The GoK could most certainly incorporate urban planning in their future plans for Kenya to promote the philosophy of inclusivity and equity (cited by Watson 2008) (Cobbinah & Darkwah, 2017, p. 1231-1232).
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