Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zambia; distinguished Guests; ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to join you this evening, in celebration and renewal of the old and strong friendship of our nations and peoples. I start by thanking the people and government of Zambia for the gracious welcome and wonderfully warm hospitality extended to my delegation and I since our arrival in your splendid country; and by conveying, to the government and people of Zambia, the warmest fraternal greetings from Kenya.
For myself, let me thank my brother, His Excellency President Lungu, for inviting me to pay a state visit to Zambia – the first ever by a Kenyan head of state.
We are honoured to be here tonight, amongst our Zambian brothers and sisters, not just because of the warmth of your welcome, but also because of the deep sense of shared history – a history evident in the similarity of our languages, our traditions, and our aspirations. Like you, we longed for freedom in the days of the colonial yoke. Like you, we fought to build a peaceful, secure, and prosperous nation in the aftermath of our liberation. These similarities moved our founding fathers to form close diplomatic ties shortly after Kenya and Zambia attained independence. Both Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta were visionaries as well as liberators. In their foresight, they saw that this continent would one day be totally liberated. That is why they supported liberation movements across the continent; and that is why they played a full and decisive part in the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Theirs is a great legacy, and it now falls to us, the next generation, to fulfill their dream of freedom and prosperity for the peoples of these lands.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This meeting renews that friendship, with its shared aims, its mutual aid, and its commitment to freedom. This is the time to revitalize and to strengthen our fraternal cooperation.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, one sphere of our work together, which could do with revitalizing, is trade. We have long exchanged goods and services. But this new era for Africa has opened tremendous opportunities. There is enormous potential for more robust growth. That is one reason why I honoured the invitation to attend this year’s Zambia International Trade Fair in Ndola: I believed that we could do more to grow the volume of trade between our nations and peoples, and I trusted that the Fair would help forge the vital links.
I know that businesses in both countries are keen to make the most of the opportunities that are so rapidly opening up. I know that we have learned prudence from our experiences of the past. And I know that we are all determined to seize the day; to make up for lost time; and to raise Africa to its rightful place in the world. But these will remain little more than dreams if we do not unleash the energy and imagination of our entrepreneurs, our innovators, and our young people. Indeed that is why I welcome you all most warmly to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which we in Nairobi will host later this month. But it is also why I must stress that governments across the continent should turn, now, to creating the environment in which our most inventive and energetic people can thrive. I know my brother President Lungu and I will work together in this cause.
That confidence is born not just of our already long history of cooperation, but also of our discussion under a joint framework, which has hastened cooperation in fields as diverse as education and defence. Indeed, at the end of last month, we agreed to initiate several Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), some of which, I am glad to say, we signed today. Of course, there are a number of matters about which further consultation will be necessary – perhaps the most important of these being the establishment of a Special Status Agreement.
But, Your Excellency,
It is essential to mention, and to appreciate, your government’s help in matters of security. Given our long history, and our friendship, we regard you as an ally. And you have not faltered: you stood with us in some of our most trying moments.
But we still have work to do. The stabilization of Somalia is a key priority, for the long-term stability of the region. Zambia and Kenya, with other troop-contributing countries serving with AMISOM, in Somalia will work tirelessly to bring peace, and prosperity to our brothers in Somalia. Meantime, we salute our men and women in uniform for their sacrifices.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you once again, for your warm reception, which renews an old friendship.
Let me now propose a toast to the good health and long life of His Excellency President Edgar Lungu, to the freedom and prosperity of Zambia, and to the friendship between our nations and peoples.
Thank you and God bless you all.