Thank you for joining me this week.
We will focus on a number of issues, both domestic and foreign. 1. State Visit by Slovak President This week the President of Slovakia, Andrej Kiska, will make a three-day State Visit to Kenya. This is the first time a sitting Slovak President is making this visit. President Kiska will be received by President Kenyatta tomorrow, 13th February 2017, at State House, Nairobi, where the two leaders will lead their delegations in bilateral talks. The Slovak Republic is a high-income advanced economy with one of the fastest growth rates in the European Union. The economy has mainly been driven by Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). The country’s GDP is $138.277 billion (2015 estimates.) and GDP per capita stands at $25,525 (also 2015 estimates). Major industries in Slovakia include metal and metal products, paper and printing, food and beverages, electricity, gas, oil, nuclear fuel, transport vehicles, textiles, electrical and optical apparatus, rubber, and machinery. Kenyan businesses will be looking to leverage the Slovak Republic’s areas of relative strength as the country looks to expand its basket of trading partners. Kenya is one of the three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where Slovakia maintains diplomatic missions; others are South Africa and Nigeria. The balance of trade between Kenya and Slovakia is in favour of Slovakia and the talks tomorrow will partly focus on getting more Kenyan goods into the Slovakia market. President Kenyatta will cite Kenya’s central position in the East and Central Africa region as ideal for investors from the Slovak Republic to use as a launch pad to penetrate the enormous market of over 650 million people of the recently concluded Tripartite Free Trade Area arrangement which brings together three (3) established Regional Communities of the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The Tripartite FTA has created a seamless market from Cape Town to Cairo. President Kenyatta will also make clear that the continent of Africa is also working towards consolidating its economies into a large Continental Free Trade Area therefore providing more business opportunities. President Kenyatta has paid State visits to dozens of countries since he came to office, and received a galaxy of global leaders here in Nairobi. Kenyans are now seeing the fruits of these years of engagement with partners, with high-impact investments such as the re-starting of assembly plants for German and French automakers VW and Peugeot. 2. Drought response A few days ago, President Kenyatta declared the current drought a national disaster. Such a declaration gives the Government the powers to make available all resources at its disposal to combat the disaster, and in this case, whatever the Ministry of Devolution and Planning requires to deal with drought will be made available by all Government ministries, departments and agencies. This will see a significant increase in the cash transfer programme, food and water distribution, as well as initiatives to support pastoralists whose herds are threatened. It is important to note that no one has died as a result of the current drought and relief being provided by Government is reaching its intended recipients. Government has already said it will allow the importation of maize by licensed millers, a process which will be closely monitored to ensure transparency. Other mitigating factors include the expansion of water trucking to areas and institutions without permanent sources of water as well as scaling up the provision of livestock feed as well as the sale of livestock by owners to the Government. 3. President Kenyatta - Voter Registration Drive Yesterday, the President completed his tours to drum up support for voter registration across the country. Over the last three days, the President visited Nairobi, Nyandarua, Nakuru and Laikipia counties, urging residents — especially the youth — to come out in large numbers to register as voters. As part of his #BambaKuraYako campaign, the President had previously visited the counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kitui, Isiolo, Marsabit, Meru, Nyeri, Murang’a, Kiambu, Embu, Kirinyaga and Tharaka Nithi speaking to residents during some 300 stops. President Kenyatta told the youth – who constitute the largest percentage of the Kenyan population – that they have the ability to determine the quality of leaders the country will have if they register as voters and participate in the coming general election. His key message to the youth: if you do not like the leaders in office, register to vote and run for office yourselves in order to articulate your interests. Not registering to vote is not rebellion, it is surrender. President Kenyatta further urged the youth not to be involved in violence incited by political leaders. The mass voter registration period ends on Tuesday, 14 February 2017. The President urges those who have yet to register to do so. 4. Supplementary estimates for 2016/17 fiscal year Some opposition politicians, misguided as always, have been mouthing criticism of the supplementary budget estimates approved by Cabinet a few days ago. State House finds their arguments very much without merit. The Government has an agenda for improved service delivery and is working to meet that agenda through the prudent deployment of resources available to it. Manoah Esipisu, MBS Secretary of Communication & State House Spokesperson Email: email@example.com Twitter: @MEsipisu