Investor education crucial to taming gambling in Sub Saharan Africa.

Business Daily

Online betting has been popular in Kenya for a fairly long time, according to Casino Reports. It wasn’t until recently that the government decided to regulate the industry. Most Kenyan online casino players had to choose from unlicensed websites or even take part in illegal gambling establishments in order to enjoy their favourite games.

By March last year, Geopoll revealed that Kenya had the highest number of gambling youth in sub-Saharan Africa.

Uganda and Ghana came second and third respectively in the study that focused on the popularity of luck games.

But why do Kenyans have high affinity to gambling?

One reason for rise in gambling among Kenyans is the probability and hope it gives of ensuring quick financial security. Families want to be rich and stable quickly and the thought of poverty and unemployment is a major source of ulcers in most local households.

Kenya’s police officers arrange unlicensed gambling machines they impounded in Kisumu County. PHOTO | FILE

It is also quite unfortunate that gambling is the main, equal opportunity employer among the Kenyan poor.

Addiction to gambling can also be attributed to the low awareness among the Kenyan public as a result of limited sensitisation by both public and private stakeholders.

The third possible explanation for addiction has to do with unattractiveness of alternative investments.

Let’s start with agri-business. The government has one noble mission of making Kenya a food-secure nation in the not so distant future. That is a pillar of the ‘Big 4 Agenda.’ If this plan were to become a reality, all small-holder farmers would be a happy lot. That isn’t the case. Duty free imports intended to stabilise food prices have been misused to the detriment of the rural farmer.

The annual budget allocation towards agri-business by the Treasury has equally not been assuring.

At Nairobi Securities Exchange

, the tears increase tenfold. The media is awash with governance issues ailing the vital investment institutions. Instances where investor cash has been lost thanks to falsified profit reports of listed companies in the bourse are in hundreds.

Entrepreneurship on the other hand has been turned to an exercise of scratching the ground for worms like chickens.

The interest rate capping law that was intended to boost access to affordable credits among SMEs is achieving the opposite.

Meaningful employment opportunities do not match the speed at which tertiary institutions are churning out graduates. Skills acquired at the institutions are out of touch with market realities.

When we go to Government Paper and Fixed Deposit Accounts, at least we can find some hope in the possibility of fixed income receipts in both the short and long run but very few policymakers take the time to educate Kenyans on the viability of these options.

To alter this grim scenario, there is a need for urgent reform in our governance institutions, an increase in budget spending geared towards investor education in the country.

We need to expand agro-produce markets locally and internationally. The State must think of a permanent fix to the country’s skills gap, and end the culture of having to know somebody high up in Government to succeed.

First Published by the Business Daily

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