Demystifying the BBI – Part One

***Njambi Mutahi***

You’ve probably heard the word BBI oozing from every media house and your favorite social media sites time and again. This BBI talk more often than not leads into a turmoil of raging debates eluding the key question ringing at the back of your mind: what is BBI? What does it contain? Why is it so important?


BBI in full is Building Bridges Initiative. This policy and structural based report was birthed by the joint comminique’ popularly known as “The handshake”. After the handshake, the president sent a task-force to collect opinions and recommendations from various leaders, former leaders, youth, and private sect stakeholders. The selection criteria of the parties involved in this initial participation has however raised controversy as the invitation was majorly closed door. The participants are listed in annex 3 of the document.


Nevertheless, the public participation rallies in progress are an opportunity for you to air views and discuss the proposals that affect you directly. The politics involved are completely unnecessary unless, the contents of the report are unknown. If you listen to the political noise, you will realize that it has nothing to do the BBI and most of the participants are completely ignorant of the report’s content.


The BBI report has been summarized into 9 major challenges impeding unity and economic advancement. These challenges precede recommendations from the task-force which are possible solutions to the problems. The public participation rallies are meant to collect more responses and recommendations from the common mwananchi since the brunt of these problems weigh on ‘Wanjiku’. However, since the rallies keep adding to or deducting from the initial BBI report, there may be multiple versions but this article is based on the original version launched at Bomas of Kenya in 2019.


The 9 challenges highlighted in the report are:
1. Lack of national ethos: This plainly means to imply that Kenya lacks shared beliefs, ideals and aspirations.
2. Responsibilities and rights of citizenship: BBI mentions that citizen’s rights are overemphasized while shadowing their responsibilities.
3. Ethnic antagonism and competition: The face of Kenya is rarely captured in political, social, economic and cultural spheres of Kenya.\
4. Divisive elections: This is the popular section addressing the selection of a prime minister and a Leader of opposition to prevent post election conflict.
5. Inclusivity: This section mentions delegating the selection of members of the disciplined forces to private companies.
6. Shared prosperity: This section advocates for a shift in the economic paradigm to provide for job creation.
7. Corruption: This is the bone of contention for the entire report. The recommendations are unfortunately underwhelming.
8. Devolution: This is the section with the casual mention of the controversial “voluntary” regional economic blocs.
9. Safety and security: The highlight of this section is tasking the president to publish a comprehensive security and strategy within three months of assuming office subject to renewal every two years.


The recommendations will be comprehensively covered in part two of this article. Stay woke!

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