There are different ways into which countries are categorized, most commonly, into developed, developing and the least developed or underdeveloped, Opines Mike Mbugua G.
According to investopedia, the primary factor used to categorize countries is the Gross Domestic Product per Capita, countries with high GDP are considered to be developed while those with low are declared the least developed; while those with average per capita are said to be developing.
For a country to be said to be developed, it should have a GDP of at least $12, 000; however, in some cases, $ 25, 000 is considered to be the minimum threshold.
Most developed countries have a GDP of over $ 40, 000. In 2017, Kenya’s GDP was recorded at $ 2, 993.03.
In addition to GDP, another parameter that is used to assess development of a country is the Human Development Index, which reflects the economic and social development.
The index is calculated based on life expectancy, educational attainment, and average income of citizens on a standard scale of between 0 and 1.
Countries with an HDI closer to 1 are considered to be developed while those close to 0 are least developed. Kenya had an HDI of approximately 0.555 in 2015.
So, based on GDP and HDI, Kenya is by world standards a developing country. However, by critically reasonable measures, it is not a developing country, but it is rather an underdeveloped country.
This is because, in measuring the development situation of a country the time factor ought to be taken-into-account, that is, the duration since the formation of the country; not since independence, because even prior to independence the country still existed albeit those in control of the government being different.
In that regard, Kenya has existed since 1895 under the British Empire which established the East Africa Protectorate, and from 1920 when it was known as the Kenya Colony.
But to be fair to anti-colonialist’s, the Independent Republic of Kenya was formed in 1964 after obtaining independence in 1963.
So, let’s say, Kenya is 54 years old rather than 123 years from the time it was officially under a government or even 103 years when it was just known as Kenya.
Any measure of growth and development ought to be measured against time for it to be considered objective, otherwise it is subjective, and does not deserve to be taken seriously.
For that reason, I believe, the notion that Kenya is a developing country ought to be disregarded because the time factor is not taken-into-account.
Allow me to use the analogy of a developing infant.
A newborn baby is supposed to weigh between 2.6Kg and 3.8Kg. Anything below 2.6Kg is underweight.
An adult of modest height and health status ought to weigh more than 65Kg, anything less than that is underweight.
A 16 years old boy or girl weighing 40Kg would be said to be growing and developing but a 54 year’s old man or woman weighing 30Kg will, undoubtedly, be said to be underdeveloped.
Kenya is that man or woman who weighs 30Kg at the age of 54 years. Can he or she be said to be developing?
And more so, when compared with her age mates, such as Singapore whose per capita were 55, 235.51 US Dollars in 2017 and an HDI of 0.925.
My point, without running into the risk of sounding simplistic towards development is, we are not where we are ought to be as a country if development is measured against time – since the country was formed or at least, since it attained independence.
If indeed Kenya was a developing country, by now we would be at a per capita greater than 10, 000 US dollars, and HDI more than 0.8. – The fact that we are at 2, 993.03 US dollars and an HDI of 0.555 shows that we are behind our age by a large margin.
We are 54 years old, but our economic and social weight is equivalent to that of a 20 years’ old country, and as such, we are economically and socially underweight hence, underdeveloped!
Author is Mike Mbugua G
KNU: Such opinions do not reflect our views, but those of the writer.