Kenya does not need development through goodwill, it needs development through investment. And they are getting it, but not without its own set of problems. This investment is coming from the Chinese. The Chinese government is investing millions (if not billions?) of dollars into Kenya, and Kenya is paying the Chinese government as well. Trade figures between the two are seeing double digit growth. China is developing the infrastructure of the nation, building roads, and stabilizing the power Grid. They are building stadiums and medical centers and rice-fields. They are doing the heavy lifting that Kenya seems unable to do. If this seems insulting, I will be fair to everyone: the US cannot do its own heavy lifting anymore either: Europeans are helping build our power plants and rebuild our road infrastructure.
Why are the Chinese investing so much? Because of what I would call a difference in goals between the Chinese and the West when it comes to development. I will safely say that most Western development organizations want to be culturally sensitive and allow Kenyans to catch up to, “modern times,” while at the same time figure out how all of this modernity fits into their own culture, handing over the reigns of cultural preservation to the Kenyans themselves. This means that many Western developers focus on low-cultural-impact goodwill projects, such as increasing food production (or just handing out the food…) and developing local-level income generating activities.
The Chinese have a different goal. They seem to realize that Kenyans are people who are well aware of what the world has and that they want it now. Why wait 50 years for a country to develop before you sell finished goods if you can produce those goods for low enough costs that vast majorities of people can buy them today. Of course, these are lower quality goods, but over time the Kenyan government will implement its own projects that will slowly increase the quality of life of its own people. The Chinese are patient, and know that true economic revolutions take time (is their’s over yet?!), but they also know they can make bank here with strategically-marketed, low-cost, manufactured commodities: toothbrushes, basins, mobile phones (yes, a commodity here), etc.