Saturday, June 09, 2007

Nakuru: The Making of a Kenyan California

The State of California is the American trendsetter for energy and environmental policies. Most of its regulatory laws are copied by other states, and sometimes by the federal government. Though Nakuru town is not a state, its controversial smoking laws could find their way into other municipalities’ town halls. This could mark a new era in the history of Kenyan local authorities. We could see municipalities starting to exercise their independence from the central government.

This is both good and bad news for town dwellers: Good news because it’s easy for them to protest against laws made locally, and bad news because it might open a by-laws arms race among municipalities. I would not be surprised to see certain County Councils coming up with ridiculous laws, just to outdo Nakuru’s stupid smoking by-law.

Bottom Line: I hope this new era will spark a culture of competition among local authorities. We need to have a situation where Thika will be competing with Nairobi for industrial dominance, Nakuru with Eldoret for agricultural supremacy, and Narok with Mombasa for Tourism prowess.

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