HOW KENYA WON THE WORLD CUP 2030 : A STORY OF CHANGE, VISION AND ADVANCEMENT :- A TRIBUTE TO LEE KUAN YEW
|Lee Kuan Yew|
Divock Origi was sweating profusely in the tropical sun. His demeanor was calm, as he observed the tactical game being played before a capacity crowd of 210,000 spectators in Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay.
The emotional tension was palpable, pulsing through out the stadium and across the world. This was the most watched game in history and more than 6 billion people around the globe were watching it. This was the final of the World Cup 2030, and Kenya a newly industrialized country, had advanced to this level despite insurmountable odds.
The advance had been unpredictable, and Kenya was carrying the weight and aspirations of a recently more assertive Africa.
|World Cup Trophy|
Half of the stadium was filled by East Africans a cohesive bunch who had congregated from around the world to witness this feat. Africa was one, in standing, and to attest to this the VIP section had all the leaders of African nations in attendance. The look on their faces spoke volumes, none exuded a dignified posture. While many fought back tears, evident from their watery eyes, some threw away restraint and bit their nails nervously.
Divock had done the impossible in his short coaching career, and brought his ancestral country to the final game. All that remained was for them to display what they had learned together. Despite the commotion around him he couldn’t help but travel back to the fateful day when this journey started 16 years earlier.
After Belgium graciously bowed out of the World Cup 2014 he had a heated conversation with his father on whether an African country would ever win a World Cup. Since then he had constantly replayed that conversation and his father’s words in his mind.
Even when he had been the anchor that took Liverpool through success in the Premier League, Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup.
Deep down all this success drove him to believe there was a greater purpose he was meant to aim for and attain, more than the accolades and price money that he had accumulated, but, he was not accustomed to blind risk taking and whenever he could he strove to keep a keen eye on the developments in his ancestral country. He chuckled as he looked with pride at the Kenyan president who sat in the VIP section of the stadium.
What had attracted him to reach his decision in 2025 to quit active football and start a coaching stint in Kenya that was denigrated by the football world was a well-orchestrated and concerted effort by this man.
In 2017 the president had come to power, with promises that seemed almost unattainable. Many said he had utopian aspirations. But part of his many talents, was the ability to inspire and cast a vision that would drive, millions to blind allegiance.
What he also was, was a man with a second chance at life, and he wanted to leave a legacy that would even rival Lee Kuan Yew’s success in Singapore.
He made sure he had people around him that were talented, world-class, incorruptible and resolute in their drive, and placed them in key positions in his government.
It also helped his lofty ambitions that Kenya’s oil reserves rose to 42 billion barrels , after further oil discoveries were unearthed in four exploration blocks straddling the eastern parts of the country (L5, L1B, 2A and L2). As the impossible became possible the president set about shaking and transforming the social, economic and cultural identity of the country.
|Oil Exploration Blocks in Kenya|
The president and his able cabinet realized that, they had to create a nation devoid of the British railroad legacy, where people had congregated along the railroads tracks and with time towns and shanties had evolved into cities and slums.
A project dubbed “the four corridors” was initiated in 2019 to open up Kenya soon after. The onus of this audacious project was to build four high-speed rail networks that created new settling centers in Kenya and also connected the country like never before.
High Speed Rail
The four consortia that were each awarded a corridor to construct were given an ambitious five years to complete their part of the undertaking. Part of the qualifier required them to train more than 40,000 people who would run each of the networks, and also set up technical institutions in one of the cities along their corridor that would empower the nation in becoming self-reliant in managing the high-speed rail networks by 2024.
Another project that soon followed was a concerted effort to increase the road network in Kenya to 630,000 km, and the creation of expressways between some of the major designated cities. The underlying intention was to build dual carriageways between all the 47 counties, and single lane roads straddling all corners of each county. The inspiration was to ensure that there was no place in Kenya that was not 1 kilometer from a paved road. The government chose to have most roads paved with concrete and also pushed for development rights.
The development rights were carefully designed to ensure that they created jobs for Kenyans.
Four international airports were built in Lodwar, Isiolo, Nakuru and Wajir while Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret and Nairobi airports were extended and upgraded.
The creation of a tourist hub in Isiolo was lauded and well received, but it really took off when Kenya made a point of inviting Walt Disney Resorts to develop a Going-to-Africa theme park, Merlin Entertainments to develop two LegoAfrica Parks and OCT Parks China to bring to life a China-meets-Africa theme park.
Each of these companies used the natural beauty of Kenya and incorporated natural wildlife themes in their hugely successful and world embraced theme parks. They were also present in Machakos and Nairobi. In time they developed Sea themed parks in Malindi and Mombasa.
The annual visitors to Kenya soon rose to 30 million people from across the world as they were aptly marketed to by these theme parks multinationals that had extensive experience in creating memorable experiences.
National Youth Service
To ensure that Kenyans became more cohesive, disciplined and focused the national youth service was strengthened empowered, and made compulsory for citizens between the ages of 18 -23. And the best among those in this training program were hand picked for further studies in Ivy League universities around the world. The understanding was that these people would come back and serve the country in different capacities under the ministries for a period of 5 years before joining the private sector if they so wished. By doing this civil service would always be top class, proactive and ready to advance in a global economy.
The government also made it essential to pay its work force well. It made concerted effort to have a trim, world-class civil service; an example being the police who became one of the best paid and best equipped in the world.
The government for once had relevant discussions with the academic fraternity and soon after Kenya in its concerted stance invested in overhauling the education system and making it more competitive and astute for the global economy.
Kenya invested heavily in training quality teachers and students, because it realized that people were its greatest assets. It made education free and compulsory from the age of 5 -19 years, footing the bill for all public education in the country. It invited and 'incentivised' top global universities around the world to setup shop in the country and tap into the wider African market. It offered substantial support for foreign and local students to apply and join these universities.
Local universities were then required to partner with a choice of the top 100 universities around the world in offering relevant courses in the country.
Due to the state of the economy and the well-received action of the government around the world, most of the top global universities were soon found in the university cities of Taveta, Machakos, Kitui and Thika. German and Korean technical universities were also invited to train and retrain the country’s youth into employ-ability.
Kenya was soon a well accepted outsource site for most Fortune 500 companies as more highly skilled Kenyan started getting into the job market.
Given the availability of large swatches of land across the country, Kenya set about to become the global leader in agribusiness. With close coordination with Israel and Netherlands, the country set up large farms that did poultry, livestock, cereals and fruits for the local and international market. The farms became self reliant in less than 3 years, and with relevant partnerships with local universities, scientists, managers and engineers for this industry became prevalent and available to support other such ventures across Africa.
|Agribusiness in action|
In return for generous incentives these farms were required to create value out of raw materials locally and sell premium products to the international market. These agribusinesses ended up feeding the whole nation comfortably.
The land issue had been an issue for such a long time due to speculation, land in the hands of a few and abject poverty. But as more people became employed, the government acquired ancestral lands, and got about modernizing these areas while ensuring that people could be resettled across the country, with better or similar comforts found in any city in the world.
The concept was to build up the country section-by-section offer jobs and comforts of life and let people migrate to these areas that were dispersed across the country.
To inspire the creation of an identity Kenyan, devoid of tribal linkages, the government, invested billions of dollars in building 80,000 housing units every year from 2019, which were allocated to all pension holding persons in the country at highly subsidized prices. These houses when built had access to clean water, effective drainage and sanitation, clean electric power and proximity to the road network, (which at this point were earnestly underway). They came in two sizes, 3 bedroom and six bedrooms depending on the size of the family.
These houses were constructed in all cities and towns across the country and owners were selected on a national lottery system, to allow for dispersal of people, based on their training and where their skills were required around the country.
The energy needs of the country were also aligned to the intention to incubate and mature various skill intensive and knowledge intensive industries, while also driving the mining industry. To this end, the needs were revised upwards to 250,000 MW by 2030 rivaling earlier estimates of 19,200 MW.
Multinationals Vestas, Goldwind and Enercon built wind farms in the Chalbi and Nyiri Deserts and off shore wind farms in the Ungama Bay region in the Coastal region.
The use of concentrated solar power allowed for massive installations to be erected in the Northern Corridor from Turkana all the way to Wajir.
Solar photovoltaic was extensively embraced as installation prices kept going down and every new house built was required to have an essential installation to cater for more than 90% of its needs. Tax exemptions were given based on energy efficiency for most of the industries that operated in the country.
The use of geothermal power was also increased exponentially with exploitation of the 10,000 MW.
The government realizing the potential of renewable energy, created highly competitive incentives for renewable energy companies around the world to undertake R&D in the country.
The president wanted to make Kenya the venue of a highly lucrative world class Carbon Exchange Market, part of his strategy was to make Kenya one of the greenest countries in Africa, and a gateway into the African carbon market, he thus addressed the drastic loss of forest cover in the country, by revising and up scaling the aspirations to reforest Kenya from 10% to around 30% especially in semi arid areas and deforested areas. The budget for this process was increased to $ 1 billion dollars by 2021.
Carbon Market in Kenya
The advent of the Nakuru Climate Exchange with the support of the European Climate Exchange, made its debut in 2023. Soon after it became one of the best Climate Exchange centers in the world.
The government did not overlook the large underwater aquifers in Turkana running into 250 billion cubic meters able to serve Kenya for more than 50 years, instead a policy was legalized that ensured that this water would be used in a manner that would allow it to replenish over, hundreds of years.
This would only be possible through the reclamation of municipal waste-water, coordinated harvesting of rainwater and the use of now viable desalination treatment projects at the coastal region.
Industrial water withdrawal was also an element that needed thorough discussion as Apparel manufacturing, semi conductor manufacturing, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and car manufacturing multinationals setup up their factories in Kenya.
To avoid pollution and waste-water destroying the surrounding ecosystems, strong environmental policies were set and constantly policed by a visionary environment management authority. The chairman, who was a retired Singaporean industrialist, became the first among others who were brought in from around the world to show example, coach and mentor the country newly empowered workforce.
Many of the industries had to develop adequate structure to ensure limited degradation of the environment.
As money from oil streamed in the president ensured that there was such a high level of transparency and efficiency that the country won a number of global awards.
The country then set about converting the oil revenue into a Kenyan Pension Fund, aping the Government Pension Fund of Norway. It allowed surplus funds made from oil sales in Kenya to enter a pension fund that owned stock in various blue chip stocks around the world. The fund was also used to further the exploration of new oil blocks and fund heavy industry joint ventures that were done in Kenya and across the world.
With the discovery and processing of large deposits of Iron, rare metals, coal and titanium, it became viable for Kenya to start industrializing. To arrive at this juncture local capacity was build over time with the Oil Fund giving incentives to foreign companies to do business competitively in Kenya.
Three of the largest oil refineries in Africa were built in Isiolo, Lamu and Wajir able to process 700,000bbl/d.
Sanitation and greening Kenya
Sanitation was always an issue around the country it was only after adopting a well targeted campaign of improving waste management, etiquette training and culture reprogramming that it finally sank into the Kenyan people psyche that it is detrimental to litter or perform acts of sabotage on public infrastructure.
Social Economic structures
Realizing that to be competitive it had to be honest and competent, the government set about creating a truly corruption free government with very steep penalties for corrupt individuals. The mood was set when a close aide of the president, was arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned. Soon everyone knew that there was little tolerance for this vice. The president set it as his personal agenda to stem corruption and ensure that every single Kenya Shilling was accounted for.
The cabinet was an economic executive board, not a planning body alone, success was measured by the success of policies and results and politics was highly frowned upon.
Kenya had finally realized that if it could establish world-class standards in public and personal security, health, education,telecommunications, transportation and services, it would be the base camp for entrepreneurs, engineers, managers and other professionals who had business to do in the Africa. It then set about converting itself extensively and comprehensively.
It was not long afterwards, that its neighbors followed suit Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Somalia also became bastions of success.
Yes, Somalia too, when Somalia realized the amount of oil wealth that it was sitting on and as its diaspora started coming back home, things improved and the Al-Shabaab in the face of success became a thing of the past.
With the introduction and institution of compulsory national youth service ample number of service men for the police, military and generally the security apparatus of the country became robust. It also grew organized and fit, a product of constant interaction with terrorist activity. The military was not spared in the anti-corruption hurricane and meritocracy took root. In several international reviews in 2022 the police system in Kenya was termed as one of the top 30 most efficient in the world. The Kenyan borders became well policed using both personnel and the latest in surveillance technology.
As the country set about undertaking great feats, Divok was approached not once but 12 times, to come and see the developments that were sweeping through Kenya, he had a chance to visit the various construction works across the country in late 2020 and also saw the soccer training grounds in Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kitui and Wajir. They were exemplary. The skills of the young boys impressed him, and he decided to finally quit in 2025 and settle permanently in Kenya as he focused on turning 16 -18 year olds boys into a well-coordinated team that would challenge the best national teams in World Cup 2030. Truth be told, none of the boys in the team had really had any experience in top-flight football.
But then again this was the football of the future. Where old was debilitating and would easily cause a team to fail.
As the final whistle was blown, the score was 1-0 Kenya had just won the World Cup 2030 against host nation Uruguay.
As the Kenyan team waited for the FIFA World Cup trophy to be engraved ‘2030 Kenya’, on the last remaining space on the bottom of the trophy, tears fell freely and unabatedly as millions of Kenyans watched around the world, and began to understand that for them to have gotten this far, it had a lot to do with the institutional changes that took root over the last 17 years.
This was the thought that ran through Divock’s mind as he lifted the cup with his teammates and the stadium erupted into momentous cheering.
NB: This is a fictional narration and most of the facts collected have been rehabilitated to inspire change.