A few ways to fix a government | Charity Wayua

A few ways to fix a government | Charity Wayua

Posted by

Growing up in Kenya, I knew I always wanted
to study biochemistry. See, I had seen the impact of the high
prevalence of diseases like malaria, and I wanted to make medicines
that would cure the sick. So I worked really hard, got a scholarship to the United States,
where I became a cancer researcher, and I loved it. For someone who wants to cure diseases, there is no higher calling. Ten years later, I returned
to Kenya to do just that. A freshly minted PhD, ready to take on this horrific illness, which in Kenya was almost
certainly a death sentence. But instead of landing a job
in a pharmaceutical company or a hospital, I found myself drawn
to a different kind of lab, working with a different
kind of patient — a patient whose illness was so serious it impacted every single
person in my country; a patient who needed to get healthy fast. That patient was my government. (Laughter) See, many of us will agree that lots
of governments are unhealthy today. (Laughter) (Applause) And Kenya was no exception. When I returned to Kenya in 2014, there was 17 percent youth unemployment. And Nairobi, the major business hub, was rated 177th on the quality
of living index. It was bad. Now, an economy is only as healthy
as the entities that make it up. So when government — one of its most vital entities — is weak or unhealthy, everyone and everything suffers. Sometimes you might
put a Band-Aid in place to try and temporarily stop the pain. Maybe some of you here have participated in a Band-Aid operation
to an African country — setting up alternative schools,
building hospitals, digging wells — because governments there
either weren’t or couldn’t provide the services to their citizens. We all know this is a temporary solution. There are just some things
Band-Aids can’t fix, like providing an environment
where businesses feel secure that they’ll have an equal opportunity to be able to run and start
their businesses successfully. Or there are systems in place that would protect the private
property that they create. I would argue, only government is capable of creating
these necessary conditions for economies to thrive. Economies thrive when business are able
to quickly and easily set up shop. Business owners create new sources
of income for themselves, new jobs get added into the economy and then more taxes are paid
to fund public projects. New business is good for everyone. And it’s such an important measure
of economic growth, the World Bank has a ranking called
the “Ease of Doing Business Ranking,” which measures how easy
or difficult it is to start a business in any given country. And as you can imagine, starting or running a business
in a country with an ailing government — almost impossible. The President of Kenya knew this,
which is why in 2014, he came to our lab and asked
us to partner with him to be able to help Kenya
to jump-start business growth. He set an ambitious goal: he wanted Kenya to be ranked top 50
in this World Bank ranking. In 2014 when he came, Kenya was ranked 136 out of 189 countries. We had our work cut out for us. Fortunately, he came to the right place. We’re not just a Band-Aid kind of team. We’re a group of computer scientists,
mathematicians, engineers and a cancer researcher, who understood that in order
to cure the sickness of a system as big as government, we needed to examine the whole body, and then we needed to drill down
all the way from the organs, into the tissues, all the way to single cells, so that we could properly
make a diagnosis. So with our marching orders
from the President himself, we embarked on the purest
of the scientific method: collecting data — all the data we could get our hands on — making hypotheses, creating solutions, one after the other. So we met with hundreds of individuals
who worked at government agencies, from the tax agency, the lands
office, utilities company, the agency that’s responsible
for registering companies, and with each of them, we observed
them as they served customers, we documented their processes —
most of them were manual. We also just went back and looked at
a lot of their previous paperwork to try and really understand; to try and diagnose what bodily
malfunctions had occurred that lead to that 136th spot
on the World Bank list. What did we find? Well, in Kenya it was taking 72 days for a business owner
to register their property, compared to just one day in New Zealand, which was ranked second
on the World Bank list. It took 158 days to get
a new electric connection. In Korea it took 18 days. If you wanted to get a construction permit so you could put up a building, in Kenya, it was going
to take you 125 days. In Singapore, which is ranked first,
that would only take you 26 days. God forbid you had to go to court to get help in being able to settle
a dispute to enforce a contract, because that process alone
would take you 465 days. And if that wasn’t bad enough, you would lose 40 percent
of your claim in just fees — legal fees, enforcement fees, court fees. Now, I know what you’re thinking: for there to exist such inefficiencies
in an African country, there must be corruption. The very cells that run the show
must be corrupt to the bone. I thought so, too, actually. When we started out, I thought I was going to find
so much corruption, I was literally going to either die
or get killed in the process. (Laughter) But when we dug deeper, we didn’t find corruption
in the classic sense: slimy gangsters lurking in the darkness, waiting to grease the palms
of their friends. What we found was an overwhelming
sense of helplessness. Our government was sick, because government
employees felt helpless. They felt that they were not
empowered to drive change. And when people feel stuck and helpless, they stop seeing their role
in a bigger system. They start to think the work they do
doesn’t matter in driving change. And when that happens, things slow down, fall through the cracks and inefficiencies flourish. Now imagine with me, if you had a process
you had to go through — had no other alternative — and this process was inefficient, complex and very, very slow. What would you do? I think you might start by trying
to find somebody to outsource it to, so that they can just
take care of that for you. If that doesn’t work, maybe you’d consider paying somebody to just “unofficially” take care
of it on your behalf — especially if you thought
nobody was going to catch you. Not out of malice or greed, just trying to make sure that you get
something to work for you so you can move on. Unfortunately, that
is the beginning of corruption. And if left to thrive and grow, it seeps into the whole system, and before you know it, the whole body is sick. Knowing this, we had to start by making sure that every single stakeholder
we worked with had a shared vision for what we wanted to do. So we met with everyone, from the clerk whose sole job
is to remove staples from application packets, to the legal drafters
at the attorney general’s office, to the clerks who are responsible
for serving business owners when they came to access
government services. And with them, we made sure that they understood how their day-to-day actions
were impacting our ability as a country to create new jobs
and to attract investments. No one’s role was too small;
everyone’s role was vital. Now, guess what we started to see? A coalition of government employees who are excited and ready to drive change, began to grow and form. And together we started
to implement changes that impacted the service
delivery of our country. The result? In just two years, Kenya’s ranking moved from 136 to 92. (Applause) And in recognition of the significant
reforms we’ve been able to implement in such a short time, Kenya was recognized to be among the top three
global reformers in the world two years in a row. (Applause) Are we fully healthy? No. We have some serious work still to do. I like to think about these two years
like a weight-loss program. (Laughter) It’s that time after months
of hard, grueling work at the gym, and then you get your first
time to weigh yourself, and you’ve lost 20 pounds. You’re feeling unstoppable. Now, some of you may think
this doesn’t apply to you. You’re not from Kenya. You don’t intend to be an entrepreneur. But think with me for just a moment. When is the last time
you accessed a government service? Maybe applied for your driver’s license, tried to do your taxes on your own. It’s easy in this political
and global economy to want to give up when we think
about transforming government. We can easily resign to the fact
or to the thinking that government is too inefficient, too corrupt, unfixable. We might even rarely get
some key government responsibilities to other sectors, to Band-Aid solutions, or to just give up and feel helpless. But just because a system is sick
doesn’t mean it’s dying. We cannot afford to give up when it comes to the challenges
of fixing our governments. In the end, what really makes a government healthy
is when healthy cells — that’s you and I — get to the ground, roll up our sleeves, refuse to be helpless and believe that sometimes, all it takes is for us
to create some space for healthy cells to grow and thrive. Thank you. (Applause)


  1. FIX government
    1) make taxes charitable and voluntary….
    2) watch government dissolve and die into nothing
    3) Anarchism then will be baseline system where private solutions emerge organically.

  2. Great to see young africans trying to fix their countries.

    Seriously don't understand the downvotes. This talk is about how to improve business opportunities in third world countries, so they can grow and prosper. Africa needs more people like her.

  3. Want to fix government? Allow its functions to take place where producers of a good or service must seek express consent from consumers; This is in order to test the product or services desirability and to allow for a price to emerge, so as to understand how how we collectively value these goods/services compared to all other scare goods and services we simultaneously are wanting to utilize as means to accomplish our ends.

  4. She would argue only governments can guarantee property rights. Well, I would argue that as a matter of economic law, if you allow consumers to freely choose between competing producers of titling and legal services who must seek out expressed voluntary consent then the price for production of these services necessarily goes down while there quality necessarily goes up. It is because governments declare jurisdiction over person and property without seeking their consent that government can strangle an economic system that necessarily relies on the voluntary exchange of private property titles.

  5. I recommend "A Radically Beneficial World: Automatation, Tecnology and Creating Jobs for All" by Charles Hugh Smith

  6. Breitbart said politics follows culture. Love or hate him, he was right. Africa, yes pretty much the whole continent, has cultures entrenched with corruption and violence. That's why business can't thrive. That's why politicians are corrupt. That's why violence like rape and murder are rampant. Politics can't fix that. It takes a special kind of leftist to think cultural problems can be fixed by a top-down political influence. No.

  7. I don't understand that somebody could just down vote , because she is "ugly" or talking with an accent? Like she has ideas for a better future, that are the people that make our future. Not the one seeing only the surface, the one who work who do things who see the insides.
    And is not the biggest problem for governments the corruption? Not only in the rich ways to get what you want but also in the way , because that seems to be the only way to get anything done

  8. You don't. Governments were invented before computers and advanced technology so obviously they don't work very well.

    If you revolt, you will die. Your best bet is to ride out the storm

  9. African natives globaly should be supporting individual like her, to help growth over there, so much missed place energy.

  10. Government employees are helpless and it's because they aren't seeking to provide consumers with a product or service they are willing to voluntarily exchange their hard earned money for. Don't get involved with government. Get involved servicing business ,pursuing entrepreneurship, saving and investment. This is true self actualization.

  11. I don't know about the dislikes but I quite enjoyed this talk, even if it surely is a bit too light-hearted and doesn't can dive into the matter deep enough to find the "illnesses" of todays governments all over the world. But regarding its only a 12 minute talk I didn't expected much more tbh. 🙂

  12. There is nothing like third world countries idiots. Learn to respect others or i will keep on abusing you that way everyday.

  13. Sub-Saharan Africa's biggest problem is their average IQ of about 70. One cannot have a modern society with that IQ.

  14. You can't fix the government. What you need to do to fix government is fix the culture of the society. When you have a culture where it is acceptable to torture/murder/rape/steal/intimidate/censor/etc. not government can work properly. The reason some places in the world are always unstable, is because of the dominate culture in those areas. The reason those areas tend to be in Africa and the Middle East, is because those are the oldest places where humans lives on Earth. They still have parts of their cultures that date back to over 6000 years ago. They haven't been able to stamp out all the barbaric aspects of those ancient cultures out yet. When humans migrated they could let go of their old cultural norms when they got to a new area, thus improving on it.

  15. Step1: Making taxation illegal for the government.
    Step 2: Sike, that was it!

    That means Absolute Inalienable Individual Right of Private Poperty. See ya leeches!

  16. I always root for Kenya. There's a pretty significant number of Kenyan immigrants in this area and almost without exception, they're really down to earth, hard working people. Its good to hear that they're making some headway over in the motherland.

  17. please fix the governments by convincing wherever you studied to stop giving the 'corrupt' governments grants and loans and whatever in exchange for minerals and other raw materials.
    If the governments in Africa actually earn money by selling all the resources they have instead of literally handing them out to drumpfs and old white men or whoever, there probably will be development.

  18. It's easy if the people are willing to be exploited to work for a lower wage, less gov't service (since less business tax).

  19. I'm not really sure if this is "fixing a government." Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate what Charity Wayua is saying and she did make it a point to state the message of this video without the context of the current economic system (that can be extremely idealized.) I just-I'm wondering is a healthy government one like New Zealand or South Korea? I mean, I'm from Canada and we are ranked 22 on the ease of doing business and I would not say our government is healthy. Is it healthier? Yes. Not healthy, though. My concern is, it seems that some "solutions" to governments that aren't working is to try and make them similar to the economic systems that are in place in other countries because they are "a better option" than the one currently available. The current direction that countries like mine are going is one that ends in endless commodification and other capitalist values. These are just some thoughts I had while watching the video, I would love to hear what other people think about this because these thoughts aren't complete yet: does anyone else feel similar concerns? Or do you disagree with me? Why? What was your take away? Great talk, either way 🙂

  20. She has probably never had to lose a single pound in her life. We Kenyans are fit like that. That weight loss analogy was only to connect with all the Western fatties in the audience who have spare meat on their body like Saudi Arabia has oil.

  21. Why do we need to treat diseases? Because before there can be diseases, you have to make people who can catch diseases. It must be remembered that these manufactured persons did not ask to exist, and that the least thing would be that they should be treated promptly and with great efficiency. If not, what is the use of making them, of bringing them into the world, since it is in order to serve society that they have been made. One you have made a suffering being, how do you undo suffering?

  22. Libeliterian country would do extremely well. When government is small there is noone to bribe and corruption is low.
    Business can thrive and economy can make everyone much wealthier which means people dont need the government to help them out.

    But understanding free market is hard. Getting hand outs is easy to understand.
    People don't see that if money is not allocated properly by the markets it is not as efficient adn everybody has to work harder and earns less than they would otherwise.
    Everyone is poorer and addicted to free handouts thinking how they could ever survive without them.

  23. China will own all Africa soon. The last of the the whites will be killed / deported for being white over the next few decades as per the decolonisation plan.

  24. I have been searching through video after video for a women who isn't talking about non issues like sexism in the west. It is so refreshing to listen to this, a women who was not born with western privilege, who has observed the effects of theocracy and stifled economic growth, and she has a story to tell. For once, good work TED. While I disagree with her estimation of government power, I respect the fact that she seeks to fix an actual issue.

  25. I like this talk. I came expecting the same tired old solutions trotted out with a fresh coat of paint. I expected 3rd world corruption to be glossed over in the name of pie-in-the-sky socialism.

    I was pleased to be wrong.

  26. I love her she seems awesome and I love how she is trying to help her country and that's somthing you be proud of

  27. ted has like 6 millions subscriber and why is this only has 54k views…. she deserves more listener

  28. How to fix Africa:
    Step 1 Allow White people to recolonize
    Step Two: Have us bring medicine and have us fix infrastructure
    Step three: Have us be the "Law", thus ending tribal warfare
    Step Four: You people get us diamonds or whatever is shiny

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *