Article from ROAPE Volume 33 Number 107
In Search of Economic Development in Kenya
The post-colonial period in Africa saw nationalist aspirations for development entangled with the quest for industrialisation. However, the national experiences of industrial and economic development in this era have been marked by varying degrees of disappointment. Kenya, like much of Africa, has failed to engender the levels of industrial growth and subsequent levels of development to which it aspired. Much of the explanations for Africa's disappointing record of industrial development have focused on two central factors: the structural constraints on industrial development and the policies that were pursued. In many ways, these factors are inherently linked to a colonial legacy. Africa's disappointing record of industrial and economic development cannot be divorced from its historical context. It is thus necessary to consider the extent to which the structures that were in place at the end of colonialism predetermined the pattern of development that would emerge in the post-independence era. When evaluating the post-independence experience of industrial development, two specific colonial legacies stand out as decisive: ‘colonial under-development’ and the ‘policy inheritance’. This article argues that although these legacies were profound, it was ultimately the dynamics of post-independence realities that determined the path of development.