In this rainy season, KenGen will complain of overflowing dams but a month or so into the dry season, they will run low on water and KPLC will have to ration electricity. Budalangi will flood every year in April but the community will wait to lose lives or property before they can move to higher ground. Many households will watch the rain water runoff instead of harvesting it for consumption, only to buy water a few days later. Food will rot in Rift valley while people are dying of hunger in Northern Kenya.
What is it that makes intelligent human beings keep running into the same problems year in year out and not do anything about it? Why don’t we ever prepare for eventualities in our lives, even the most obvious ones?
The argument goes that it is hard to spend time thinking about the future when the world around us seems to be falling apart. In the midst of overwhelming concerns like scarce resources, rising cost of living, political upheaval, terrorist scares, ethnic divisions, family challenges or joblessness, it is more burdensome than beneficial to add to the already long list, especially speculative problems. What really matters is fixing the here-and-now, right?KenGen can therefore plan to build more dams so that it harvests more rain water for KPLC to provide uninterrupted electricity supply to its customers for longer periods.
While this solution sounds logical and viable, it is short term and irrelevant in the long term. Why do I say so?
If Kenya is to become a middle income country as aspired by vision 2030, providing reliable and efficient power supply for all Kenyans both for domestic and industrial use is going to be critical. With an increasing population, a declining water table and drastically changing weather patterns, hydro power is certainly not going to be a sustainable source of energy. Alternative sources like solar and wind might be more strategic options in a more globally warm environment.
Through policy interventions and incentives, mass installations of solar panels in all new buildings and wind masts in appropriate locations today, would be a strategic decision that would provide a more reliable source of energy and result in reduced expenditure on this essential commodity in the long run. Besides, KPLC definitely needs to style up! Some competition would be good in forcing it to be a more efficient service provider.
Structured thinking about the future means putting both the problems we face today and the solutions we might try in a larger context. One is able to expand their understanding of the extent of the situation and see how different issues are interconnected. As we have seen time and again, it is all too easy for actions that seem reflexively correct in the short term to lead to far greater crises in the long term. Thinking constructively about the future allows us to begin to see the path we would need to take in order to get to a better world or, at the minimum, the paths we need to avoid in order to forestall a worsening of the situation. By thinking about the future, we can clarify the responsibility and capacity we have to create a tomorrow worth living in. It is the reasonable and responsible thing to do. Ignoring the future is undermining the present.