Fact Checking President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Madaraka Day speech

A look at 5 claims President Kenyatta made in his Madaraka Day speech

In his Madaraka Day speech on June 1st 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta made several claims that PesaCheck has identified for fact-checking. Here is a look at 5 of those claims.

In the first claim, which is about life expectancy, the President claimed that Kenyans today live almost twice as long as the independence generation. Life expectancy generally looks at the number of years a person is expected to live based on the statistical average.

PesaCheck finds this claim to be false because, according to data from the World Bank, life expectancy at birth in Kenya in 1963 was 48 years while in 2016, it was at 67 years. This is a growth of 19 years, which is a growth of almost a third of the life expectancy at independence.

The second claim says “Thanks, in part, to this administration’s free maternal care programme, far fewer of our children die at birth, or in their first five years of life: we have cut child mortality to a quarter of what it was in 1963.”

According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2014, “the infant mortality rate is 39 deaths per 1,000 live births, and under-5 mortality is 52 deaths per 1,000 live births. At these levels, about one in every 26 Kenyan children dies before reaching age 1, and about one in every 19 does not survive to his or her fifth birthday.”

Data from the World Bank shows that the infant mortality rate in Kenya stood at 106 per 1000 live births in 1963 and at 36 per 1000 live births in 2016.

Therefore, based on this data, and on the claim by President Kenyatta, a drop to a quarter in infant mortality rate from what it was in 1963 would be about 27 deaths per 1000 live births. But data from both KDHS and World Bank contradict this claim, which makes it be false.

The third claim is that our income per capita is thirteen times what it was at independence. Income per capita is the total national income (GDP) divided by total population. Income per capita and GDP per Capita are the same.

In 1963, Kenya’s GDP per capita was US$104.01 (KSh10,401) according to data from the World Bank. By 2016, based on the same data, the GDP per capita had increased to US$1455.36 (KSh145,536), which is 13 times the size it was in 1963.

While this would make the President’s claim seem to be true, it does not factor in the inflation rate between 1963 and the latest figures for 2016 from the world bank data. The rate of inflation measures the percentage change in the purchasing power of a particular currency. As the cost of prices increases, the purchasing power of the currency decreases.

Therefore, the purchasing power of the currency in 1963 is different from that of 2016. $1 1963 is worth $8 now. $104 in GDP person in 1963 is $832 today. Therefore, $1455 today equals $182 in 1963, which means the GDP per capita between 1963 and 2016 increased 1.75 times, and not 13. This makes the President’s claim that the income per capita has grown by 13 times since independence to be false. (thanks David Ndii).

The fourth claim reads, “Let me stress, again, that we already have successes on which to build: we have grown enrolment in the NHIF from under 4 million in 2013 to more than 7 million at last count.”

In the year 2012/2013, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) enrolment stood at 3.79 million and was estimated to rise to 6.80 million by the year 2016/17 (June 2017) according to the Economic Survey 2018. But considering this claim was made 11 months after this report, the assumption is that the number has grown to seven million based on the annual growth in the Economic Survey report which makes this claim to be mostly true.

The fifth claim reads “Thanks, in part to recent programmes that make education free for virtually every child in the Republic, nine million children have the benefit of a free primary education, an opportunity open to fewer than a million at independence.”

According to the 2014 Basic Education Statistical Booklet, a survey on the enrolment in private and public primary schools in 2014 showed that there were 8,359,488 pupils enrolled in public schools and 1,591,258 enrolled in private schools which total to 9,950,746.

However, there is no recent data on the number of pupils enrolled in public primary schools since 2014. Only the pupils from public primary schools benefit from the free primary education programme, which makes this claim by the President to be plausible because it is possible the number could have grown to nine million by 2018.

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George Githinji
George Githinji
Githinji is passionate about devolved governance and public finance. He also comments on topical issues in Kenyan politics and society. In addition, he manages the @UgatuziKenya platform.

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