Over the years, Kenya has emerged as the political and economic Mecca in East and Central Africa. It is therefore not surprising that the region is already feeling the effect of the current political crisis that has almost brought Kenya to its knees. Most of the countries in the region import goods from and/or through Kenya.
Reports from Uganda already indicate a rise in fuel prices and there is fear that more shortages and price hikes are to follow. Uganda imports nearly all of its fuel through Kenya. Kenya is also the region’s biggest exporter of manufactured goods. The raging violence has shut down businesses and factories and there are virtually no vehicles on the major highways. With the Kenyan economy in limbo, the region’s economic stability remains severely threatened.
It all seems unreal that Kenyans, who for decades have hosted refugees from all its neighbors, are now fleeing their own country to seek refuge in places like Uganda and Tanzania. Only time will tell how the region will respond to the increasingly alarming refugee situation. About 80,000 Kenyans have already been displaced from their homes. If the situation is not arrested soon, instability in Kenya will most likely spread to other countries in the region – most likely Eastern Uganda and Northern Tanzania.
Kenya’s decent to chaos will also be a big blow to the prospects for democracy on the continent of Africa. Before the post-election eruption of violence, Kenya had been seen by many African countries as a model of democracy and stability. Kenya also played a big role in bringing peace to troubled areas like Southern Sudan and Somalia. It is therefore in the region’s interest that Kenya remains stable and peaceful.
As a Kenyan editorial peace put it today, “It is unbelievable foolishness for Kenyans to destroy their economy, their homes and their entire way of life in the name of politics.” Peace and stability should be put before everything else not just for Kenyans’ sake but for the sake of the entire region as well.