James is a public finance practitioner with over 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector. He is founder and CEO of the Institute of Public Finance Kenya (IPFK), a non-profit think-tank that pursues the ideals of open public finance through training, research and capacity strengthening.
In addition to leading IPFK, James is part of its technical team, where he works to support communities to engage meaningfully with elected officials and civil servants on public expenditure and equity. An accountant by training and currently pursuing his master’s in public finance, he is lead consultant for Kenya on the Open Budget Survey (OBS), the world’s only independent, comparable measure of budget transparency, participation, and oversight.
James is a founding board member of People Powered, a global non-profit alliance that seeks to strengthen participatory democracy. He is also a member of the international advisory group for Public Finance by Women, a foundation working to promote true gender equality and equal career opportunities for women working in public finance.
He has engaged widely with citizens and interest groups, elected representatives and subnational governments, INGOs and civil society organisations on the societal impact of public revenue allocation. He is currently the Public Finance lead consultant for the USAID-funded Policy, Advocacy, and Communication Enhanced (PACE) for Population and Reproductive Health project implemented by Population Reference Bureau in Kenya, and in 2018-19 he led a budget study on reproductive health in Kenya for Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). James is also leading the development of the Annual Fiscal Analytic Snapshot for Kenya, which provides key data on Kenya’s economy.
James frequently appears in Kenyan national broadcast and print media as an expert analyst on government budgets and public finance management, fiscal accountability and transparency, and funding of healthcare, education and social programmes.
I believe that public finance holds growing relevance to Kenya because of a new constitution that has seen devolution of public management and public resources to 47 sub-national governments. I have seen both the opportunities and challenges of public finance management in addressing inequalities as most of the newly formed counties struggle with planning and management of devolved resources, and on the other hand citizens being unsure on how to mobilise their collective voice in determining public value priorities. More than 50 years after Kenya gained independence, levels of inequalities continue to increase despite a rise in overall national government spending.