Promise delivery one year on: A review of Kenya Kwanza’s pledges after inauguration

  • 21 Aug 2023
  • 4 Mins Read
  • 〜 by James Ngunjiri

It’s been a year since President William Ruto took over the leadership mantle amid challenges and opportunities in the country. He promised to revive the economy, improve food production and provide quality infrastructure, education, and healthcare services. 

The 12 months have been characterised by high inflation and interest rates, fiscal distress, structural weaknesses, and imbalances in the real economy. Elected on the promise of a “Bottom-Up Economic Transformation,” President Ruto took several early actions in line with his pledges of economic transformation. 

Shortly after his inauguration, he appointed the six judges who had been recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in July 2019 for appointment to the Court of Appeal, the Environment and Land Court, and the Employment and Labour Relations Court. The appointment of the six judges had formed the basis of former Chief Justice David Maraga’s frustrations. 


President Ruto inherited an economy saddled with debt, inflation, joblessness and national pessimism. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressed his administration to broaden its tax base and scrap the fuel subsidy. 

Broadening the tax base netted more Kenyans, and scrapping fuel subsidies raised prices and lead to further inflation, something Dr Ruto had campaigned against.  

Cost of living 

During his inaugural speech, Dr Ruto emphasised the importance of addressing the cost of living by stating that the problems Kenya faces are related to production. “Our strategy to bring down the cost of living is predicated on empowering producers. Our priority intervention, therefore, is to make fertiliser, good quality seeds and other agricultural inputs affordable and available.”

The President said to address this, the government would bring subsidised fertiliser with a price drop from Ksh6,500 per 50 kg bag to Ksh3,500 per bag. In his first week in office, he distributed an initial 1.4 million bags. This was an initial intervention, with a promise of doing more for the medium-term and long-term.  

Job creation

Job creation was another area. His administration’s immediate agenda was to create a favourable business and enterprise environment, decriminalise livelihoods and support people in the informal sector to organise themselves into stable, viable and creditworthy business entities. 

Financial inclusion and access to credit

The President promised to take measures to drive down the cost of credit. Dr Ruto said his starting point was to shift the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) framework from its then practice of arbitrary, punitive and all-or-nothing blacklisting of borrowers, which denied borrowers credit. “We will work with CRBs on a new system of credit score rating that provides borrowers with an opportunity to manage their creditworthiness. This will eliminate blacklisting,” the President said. 

He promised to implement the Hustler Fund, dedicated to the capitalisation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through chamas, Saccos and cooperatives to make credit available on affordable terms that do not require collateral. 

Youth unemployment 

To deal with the huge challenge of youth unemployment, the President promised to roll out a social and affordable low-cost housing program, targeting an average of 250,000 units a year. This was to create opportunities in the entire job market.  

Port of Mombasa

The transfer of port services from Mombasa to the Nairobi and Naivasha Inland Container Deports (ICD) was a major topic during campaigns. President Ruto overturned former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision ordering that all cargo clearance be reverted to the Mombasa port on his first day in office. The President had said that thousands of people had lost their jobs as a result of the previous administration’s requirement that all items be transported to Nairobi and other hinterlands via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). 

Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) 

To improve CBC, the President committed to increasing public participation. He soon formed a 42-member task force to assess the country’s education system and make recommendations. Notwithstanding the committee’s suggestions, there are still issues with the infrastructure and teacher shortage. 

Affordable housing 

The President is on an ambitious plan to make affordable housing for everyone a reality. His administration seeks to have over 250,000 housing units built every year. “This will create opportunities in the entire job market. We will engage TVET institutions to provide necessary skills to enable the Jua Kali industry to supply standardised products for our housing programme,” Dr Ruto said in his inauguration speech.

Two-third gender rule

The President had stated during his inauguration speech that his administration was committed to the two-third gender rule as stated in the Constitution and that he would work with Parliament to expedite many legislative initiatives and create a framework to quickly address the issue. 


A recent survey released by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA) last month showed that the majority of Kenyans believe that President Ruto has failed in fulfilling his campaign promises. The poll indicated that the Kenya Kwanza administration had gotten below-average performance of 30.8 per cent.  

The TIFA data showed that the responses were based on political alignment. For instance, 43.6 percent of government supporters thought that the government has fulfilled campaign promises supported by 18.4 per cent of respondents affiliated with the opposition, while 52 per cent of the respondents believe that the government has failed, attributing it to the high cost of living in the country. 

Failed campaign promises, increased taxation, and corruption were mentioned as some of the factors that contributed to the government’s failure. However, some Kenyans believe that the government has made some achievements by launching a hustler fund (10 percent), reducing fertiliser costs (6 percent) and taxation policies, and debt repayment (4 percent).