SPEECH BY H.E. UHURU KENYATTA DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE KENYA DIASPORA EASTER INVESTMENT CONFERENCE 2015

On October 12, 2018 In Statements and Speeches

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. I am delighted to join you this morning. Let me begin by saying that this is a very exciting time for the Kenyan diaspora: it has grown, diversified, and become an essential player in the politics, the culture, and the development of Kenya itself.

  1. That ascendancy partly explains our gathering today, for this, the very first national diaspora conference hosted by my Government.

  1. Of course, I am also very grateful for the warm support for the conference from the diaspora and our business community. Indeed, the sponsors and exhibitors present today come from all sectors of business, and reflect the spirit of public-private partnership that we are so keen to renew.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Our theme this morning is “Development and Innovation: Opportunities for diaspora. I remind you of the point for a single, simple reason.

  2. It is unlikely that we will have the opportunity to meet so many of the stakeholders and players in diaspora matters before next year. So let me urge the diaspora to fully engage them - especially the government representatives who are here.

  1. Governments across the world are increasingly aware of the indispensable contribution of Diasporas to the growth and development of their countries of origin.

  1. Governments have begun to take deliberate steps to formulate policies to harness this immense potential and mainstream it into national development plans. In Africa, we acknowledged the important role of the diaspora in the development of their countries of origin by declaring the African Diaspora the sixth constituency of the continent.

  1. The launch of the African Institute for Remittances in Nairobi in November last year stressed the significance of the economic contribution of our diasporas.

  2. The Institute will, among other things assist in capacity building of member states of the AU, remittance senders, recipients, and other stakeholders, to manage remittances as a strategic asset.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. My Government accepts — indeed admires — the important contribution of our brothers and sisters who are living abroad to the development of their country. Just last year, Kenyans living abroad remitted 1.5 Billion USD.

  2. While these flows are highly appreciated, I would like you to know that we in Government want to deepen our engagement with the Diaspora beyond remittances in order to make you feel at home whether you are here in Kenya or abroad.

  1. In my various visits abroad, I always make it a point to meet with members of the Kenyan diaspora to understand their challenges and the steps that can be taken in order to alleviate these challenges.

  1. For example, while meeting with the diaspora in the United States last year, I issued a directive to enable those of you living in left–hand drive countries to enjoy the same benefits that your brothers and sisters in right–hand drive countries enjoy.

  1. The guidelines are now in place and I am happy to note that they are being adhered to. In addition, Government continues to give high priority to addressing issues affecting the diaspora; consequently, diaspora diplomacy is now one of the pillars of Kenya’s Foreign Policy.

  2. Apart from the remittances, which contribute significantly to our economic development, we have enormous potential in our diaspora’s skills, knowledge and expertise, that should be tapped to positively contribute the growth of our economy.

  1. My Government is committed to the implementation of the National Diaspora Policy, which I launched on 20th January 2015.

  1. It remains of critical importance to mainstream the Kenyan diaspora in the development agenda in line with the aspirations and goals of Vision 2030, by creating an enabling environment into which the diaspora is effectively integrated and is able to make significant contribution to the development of this nation.

  1. In this process of integration, the main thrust must be to unlock and maximize the hitherto untapped promise of the diaspora and use this energy to carry our country to greater heights, while at the same time meeting the needs and expectations of Kenyans abroad at every point in time. This is crucial in developing a mutually beneficial relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. The momentum is with Kenya and Kenya’s diaspora.

  2. Our constitution provides for the progressive realization of the voting rights of Kenyan citizens abroad. During the 2013 General Elections, apart from Kenyan diaspora within partner states of East Africa, the rest of you were unable to participate in those elections.

  1. The Government is committed to ensure that all Kenyans living abroad are progressively facilitated to participate in the next elections to enable them to exercise their democratic right to choose their leaders.

  1. In this regard, I am happy to inform you that recently the government gazetted a Task Force on the Full Implementation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 to Facilitate Voting by the diaspora in the General Elections. The team has begun its work and will soon submit its report for implementation.

  1. Our national security is, rightly, a matter of concern to the diaspora and in this regard you will have noticed that the Cabinet Secretary responsible for this docket is present with us today.

  2. The Inspector General of Police will also be participating in this Conference. Security is essential for attracting investment from the diaspora or other international investors. I want to give you my assurance that we remain committed - to creating a conducive investment climate – in our country by enhancing – security.

  1. We are doing this partly by addressing the historical underfunding of our security agencies. However, the responsibility for the security of our country rests with each of us.

  2. Let me close this part of my remarks by reminding you that the diaspora are our first ambassadors. Your lives, and your conduct, wherever you live, are the first evidence foreigners have of what we are like. Make sure it is good.

  1. I now open the floor for the Question and Answer session. If there is anything in my remarks that you would like to take further, or other points you would like to raise with me, I would be happy to discuss them now.

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