SPEECH BY H.E. UHURU KENYATTA DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 17TH BIENNIAL AMBASSADORS’/HIGH COMMISSIONERS’ CONFERENCE

On July 18, 2018 In Statements and Speeches

Hon. Salim Mvurya, Governor of Kwale county,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. I am happy to join you this morning at the opening of the 17th Biennial conference of Ambassadors and High Commissioners. This event enables my Government to refine and deploy empowered representatives to advance Kenya’s national interests in countries and institutions outside our own.

  1. Through building bridges for effective diplomatic engagement, we thrive in a globally competitive environment by actively pursuing win-win dynamics.

  1. This Conference has also enabled us to experience the pure, magical beauty of this country in its best expression here in Kwale. It is important for each of you to carry a vivid image of our glorious Nation and natural heritage as you represent my Government, our country and its people away from home.

  2. This gathering has also enabled the National Executive build effective bridges with the county government which has graciously hosted us here. I thank Governor Mvurya for the warm welcome extended to us, and for his support for this Conference. We have all seen for ourselves how safe, busy and productive Kwale is. We have experienced the tranquility of our Coastal region, and its readiness to engage in the transformational agenda. I want to reassure everyone that the Kenyan Coast is safe, and that sound measures have been taken to assure all our visitors of security.

  3. I want this Conference to be the defining moment, not only of our Foreign and Diaspora policy, but also of my Government’s transformative agenda. Assembled here are the personnel who hold brief for me and my Government in ensuring that the aspirations of our people are realized in every engagement regionally and abroad. There is a very specific and essential foundation that underpins our external relations. It must be aligned with the vision to accelerate socioeconomic transformation and rapidly realized shared prosperity for our people.

  1. There are two critical pairings that feature our foreign policy. First of all, there is clear and sound strategic wisdom in coupling Foreign affairs and International Trade. Our balance of payments, import/export regime, foreign direct investment as well as the movement of people depend on the strength and effectiveness of our relations with other countries and institutions. Clearly, therefore, international trade cannot grow without sound foreign policy. Our economic agenda relies on growing Kenyan exports, both in volume and diversity, to support employment and wealth creation.

  2. Secondly, the pairing of this Conference with the Diaspora Conference advances the rationale of launching Foreign and Diaspora Policies simultaneously earlier this year.

  1. In short, the urgency of our transformational agenda demands a proper streamlining of Government. Lean, aerodynamic institutional are required to swiftly deliver our aspirations without being held back by structural and philosophical inconsistencies.

 
  1. This is why we now have articulated a clear diplomatic and trade agenda which addresses our needs vis-a-viz Kenya National Vision2030 and the Jubilee Manifesto. We are serious on delivery, and our policy focus testifies to this seriousness. Similarly, we have embraced and profiled our Diaspora as significant contributors to our Nation’s growth and strength.

  1. This Conference is therefore important as it inaugurates a new era in our Trade and Diplomatic agenda.

 
  1. We seek to harness trade and diplomacy to catapult Kenya into the league of the great economic and political powerhouses of the world. Our policies demonstrate that this ambition is both legitimate and feasible. Your intense deliberations will enable you determine how you will engage your countries and institutions of accreditation. You will need to be able to position our National interests so as to meet the imperatives of Vision2030. As my representatives in different parts of the world, I expect you to have sound grasp of our National interests.

 
  1. I also expect you to have internalized my Government’s transformative agenda. This is the only way you will form effective strategies to improve our balance of trade and investment in traditional, new and emerging markets for Kenyan goods and services.

  1. On my part, I will ensure that my government gives you the necessary support to perform well. One urgent task ahead for all of you is to mitigate the unfair, unnecessary and damaging profiling inflicted on our country, especially as regards the security situation.

  2. At the same time, you will be required to extensively canvass my Government’s achievements and ongoing initiatives to render Kenya a compelling destination for manufacturing, innovation and trade. Our various macroeconomic interventions, coupled with intensive infrastructural investment and the elimination of non-tariff barriers are calculated to make Kenya a low-cost investment destination.

  1. You will speak to these transformative projects in the context of the transformed foreign policy to actualize its economic, cultural, peace, environmental and Diaspora pillars.

  1. Please revisit my Government’s successes and work-in-progress as we approach the 2-year Milestone since Inauguration. Your understanding of the context of every initiative - from Uwezo Fund, Kibera transformation, Olkaria Geothermal plants, Northern Corridor Infrastructure Projects, Single Customs Territory- and other achievements, will be extremely useful.

  2. Your active participation in this Conference is therefore vital to your relevance and effectiveness at your post.

  1. Kenya’s prosperity relies heavily on our ties with other countries. Our region and our continent is our umbilical cord. We simply cannot grow without Africa. Integration and deepening of fraternal bonds with African countries is indispensable. The opening of new diplomatic missions in Algeria, Angola and other countries, as well as the appointment of honorary consuls, is not a ceremonial affair.

  2. We are deeply invested in the pan-African agenda. We will intensify our focus on Africa as a platform to grow, even as we maintain and grow relations with the rest of the world.

  1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is critical to national socioeconomic transformation. It holds the key to converting our relations into opportunities for Kenyans. It must therefore take stock of the many Agreements, MoUs and other instruments executed over the last 50 years.

 
  1. We want to know whether we have made full use of all the opportunities created by these instruments, and what we can do with them to catapult Kenya swiftly into high middle-income, industrialized status.

  1. As part of our expanded international trade mandate, we will always seek to lead efforts to develop fair and equitable trading practices regionally and globally. This is the reason behind our successful bid to host the World Trade Organization ministerial Meeting in December this year.

  2. It is also the reason that my Government has offered to host the Tokyo International Conference on African Development –TICAD VI in 2016. Our diplomacy is not in vain. Kenya is a leader, and it must demonstrate its leadership through effective, thoughtful, inclusive and transformational activity both locally, regionally and globally.

  1. My Government has implemented the Uwazi pillar of the Jubilee manifesto, Public service management must therefore be professional, accountable and citizen-centred.

  2. Like all other public servants, I expect you to deliver every dimension of your performance contracts. As my champions abroad, I want to see excellent reports, because I trust you to be able, inspired and committed to doing Kenya proud. Patriotism, professionalism and diligence must be your watchwords at all times.

  1. My Government is dedicated to eradicating waste, malpractice and abuses within the public service. I am taking active steps to realize a corruption-free public service.

 
  1. On 6th March, I issued Executive Order Number 6 on ethics and Integrity in the Public Service. As my representatives and the peoples’ advocates abroad, I want you to be of exemplary integrity. You will be investors’ and visitors’ first experience of Kenya. Make this experience a proud one for us. Do not let us down.

  1. As I indicated, my Government will support our missions to have the budgetary, infrastructural, as well as staffing levels to match our commitment to our policy and agenda.

  2. I assure you that this support will meet expectations associated with a Nation aspiring to greatness.

  1. As I conclude, I urge all of you to engage intensively at this conference. Please make yourselves ready and able to take up the expanded and transformed mandate of our diplomatic service. I want you to embrace the spirit of service at all times. This service should be informed by values of integrity, professionalism and patriotism. You can only really serve well if your mandate is complemented by capacity.

  2. That is what this Conference is about. I now declare the 17th Biennial Conference of Ambassadors and High Commissioners officially opened.

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