Kenyan Governors Presentation

Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, governor of Kisumu County, the third largest metro area in Kenya, spoke at UW-Stout on Monday. In the background is UW-Stout Interim Chancellor Patrick Guilfoile.

MENOMONIE — Rapid economic growth hasn’t been beneficial to the people of Kenya.

Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, the governor of Kisumu County — the third-largest metro area in Kenya — was at UW-Stout on Monday explaining how his country’s growing economy is being fueled by a growing debt.

Nyong’o has been a member of parliament, the senate, and the minister of medical service of planning and national development in Kenya. He is a former professor who has helped promote democratic reform in the country. He attended the University of Chicago, where he received his master’s and doctorate degrees in political science.

“This is a special opportunity to learn about Kenya and gain an enhanced understanding of business, social and economic aspects of a developing nation,” Interim Chancellor Patrick Guilfoile said in a statement prior to Nyong’o visit.

Three other governors joined Nyong’o on his visit to UW-Stout.

Nyong’o is the father to Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o for her role in “12 Years a Slave.” She also has appeared in “Star Wars” trilogy films and Marvel’s “Black Panther.”

Kenya’s economic growth in the past decade is marked by large American companies such as Amazon, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft doing business in the country. Japanese auto companies have emerged as the most significant brands of vehicles, and Chinese companies have begun aggressive advertising campaigns, Nyong’o said.

“It pays to do business in Africa, and it pays in a big way,” he said.

But the country’s foreign debt has increased five-fold during the past decade, Nyong’o said. The Kenyan economy continues on a positive growth trajectory, but it’s “jobless growth,” he said.

Investment in infrastructure has led to high-rise office buildings for large multinational corporations. The building are meant for managerial purposes, and typically the people working there aren’t from Kenya.

Nyong’o said a rise in the national debt that led to employment creation has not led to social and political stability.

There is social tension in the midst of rapid economic growth and growing indebtedness, Nyong’o said.

“The more a county gets into debt and denies the people social and human development that tends to (lead to) resistance and rebellion, and the presidency tends to rely more and more on subtle or overt repressive systems to keep rebellion down,” Nyong’o said.

Nyong’o said in a system where the president has power above other representative institutions, the system is in essence an electoral authoritarian system. He said a parliamentary electoral system for Kenya would produce a more representative government for the people of the country.

“It is now time to make a clear choice between a presidential electoral democracy and a parliamentary electoral system,” Nyong’o said.