Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome to today’s briefing here in State House, Nakuru.
Let me start by recapping some of the sentiments the President has made over the last few days.
And, I only want to do that because of a fake narrative you are likely to hear later this afternoon from opposition politicians; a narrative that falsely portrays our country as not doing well, talks down the achievements of the Kenyan people, and talks down our economy.
The President is hard at work building and supporting the institutions entrenched in the 2010 Constitution as the vanguard of our nation state.
I am sure many of you would have heard, over time, and perhaps even later today, opposition politicians who claim to be the champions for democracy, make statements and take actions that undermine it.
We continue to note opposition attacks on the IEBC and other constitutionally mandated institutions that are just trying to do their job. To undermine a pivotal institution with the mandate to deliver free, fair and credible elections is to undermine the country.
We continue to urge them to be responsible, to refrain from peddling fake news stories and attacking the good work that has been achieved. Because, peddling falsehoods as is their penchant demeans Kenya’s progress and by so doing demeans every Kenyan.
Despite a false narrative that is crumbling by the day, Kenya is making and showing progress.
In 2016, Kenya’s economic growth remained resilient despite headwinds from a weak global economy. It posted robust growth, averaging 5.9 per cent in the first three quarters of 2016. This growth was largely supported by high government investment in infrastructure such as roads, low international oil prices, improved agricultural performance particularly in the first half of the year, recovery of the tourism sector and stable macroeconomic environment.
In 2017, we expect robust growth. The President is working to ensure that this positive outlook remains secure despite the vagaries of the current drought, uncertainties in the global economy and the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
While overall inflation has remained relatively stable, in the last two months it has risen. The elevated inflation witnessed since February has largely been because of food inflation arising from high food prices following unfavorable weather conditions and seasonal factors. Non-food and non-Fuel inflation has been stable reflecting an appropriate monetary policy stance. Food inflation is expected to remain elevated in the near-term owing to the prevailing drought conditions in many parts of the country.
But government’s response to drought has been immediate and significant, helping alleviate suffering in the counties affected.
Our external position remains resilient despite heightened global uncertainties occasioned by weaker prospects for global growth and subdued commodity prices.
The foreign exchange market remained relatively stable in 2016 as the CBK pursued a flexible exchange rate policy, intervening only to minimize volatility in the market. The election of the new US administration saw a return of volatility to the global financial markets, which has since stabilized. Compared with other regional currencies, the Kenya shilling remains among the most stable in the African region. Stability in the foreign exchange market continues to be supported by a narrowing of the current account deficit.
The resilience of the economy, and international confidence in the country’s macroeconomic policies was underscored by the successful completion of the first review of Kenya’s economic program under the International Monetary Fund in January 2017.
We expect tourism to register a strong recovery as Kenya remains a top safari tourist destination. This position has been boosted by lifting of travel advisories by key Western markets following Kenya Government initiatives which included substantial investment in security, aggressive marketing and charter incentive programs that began in January 2016.
We have talked much about the economy, and I now want to illustrate how some of these gains are impacting ordinary Kenyans.
As part of Government initiative on job creation for the apparel sector that employs mostly women and youth, there will be affordable quality clothing on sale for Kenyans this coming week. This is an initiative of the ministry responsible for industrialisation.
Dubbed the 1st super sale, for the first time ever, Kenyans will be able to afford export quality cheap brand new clothes in Kenya. The apparel and textile sector that supports 179,000 jobs, and that has created 22,000 jobs over the last 3 years has a potential to create another 100,000 jobs. It is a demonstration of the support accorded to the sector by President Kenyatta’s administration.
This super sale will take place at KICC from Wednesday the 29th to Friday the 31st. Products will be sold from as low as KSh 50 to KSh 600. This is a pledge that has been fulfilled by Government through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives.
There will be subsequent sales in other towns.
The Government launched Kenya’s Industrial Transformation Program that focuses on creating a strong manufacturing base whose ambition is to increase its contribution to Gross Domestic Product to 15 per cent from the current level of about 10-11%. This strategy has seen initial focus target labour intensive areas of textile and apparel, leather and agro-processing.
Over this period, new investments in production facilities have been set up in Nairobi, Mombasa, here in Nakuru and other areas, leading to exports to USA under the AGOA program to exceed the $400 million mark, making Kenya the leading apparel exporter to the USA in sub-Saharan Africa.
In order to sustain this momentum, President Kenyatta’s administration has made a deliberate effort to ensure that as part of ensuring access to majority of Kenyans the basic need of clothing, duty free, vat free clothing is accessed in the country for the first time since independence.
Tomorrow, the President will meet the Vice President of the European Investment Bank, which has arranged financing of around KSh 20 billion for the Last Mile electricity programme. This programme is pivotal in government’s ambition to ensure every Kenyan home has electricity by 2020. Already, the number of households with a bulb have risen to nearly 60 per cent now from 27 per cent in 2013.
He will then visit Tharaka Nithi County on Tuesday and Meru County on Wednesday, commissioning and inspecting national government development projects, ranging from the provision of diagnostic medical equipment to hospitals, to construction of roads, and provision of electricity to residents and schools. He will also speak with local leaders and residents about development matters.
Last week, the President visited Nyamira and Kisii counties over where he commissioned and launched ongoing projects.
I will speak to some development projects in these counties. In Nyamira County for instance, the Nyamira Divisional Police Headquarters have been refurbished and construction of police housing complete. This project was completed in June 2016. This implies that over 90 police officers and their families have been housed resulting in improved security.
Among the roads the President launched included the construction of Chebilat – Ikonge – Chabera road at a cost Sh3.1 billion as well as other roads in the region where the Jubilee Government is spending Sh22 billion to improve the road network.
The President first landed at Igonga in Kisii County where he launched the construction of Nyamira – Igonga -teso – Itibo – Kiabusura – Mwata – Bogitaa – Riana – Iyabe – Ekiendege -Chisaro road while the Deputy President presided over the launch of Kajauri – Nyansingo – Metamaiywo road.
Early Oil Pilot Scheme
Lastly, let me talk to the Early Oil.
As you may be aware, the Early Oil Pilot Scheme Agreement was signed early last week. The agreements were signed between the Government of Kenya and the Kenya Joint Venture Partners, who comprise of Tullow Oil, Africa Oil Corporation and Maersk Oil Africa. This agreement provides a framework to progress the planned Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS). To expound on this matter, the Early Oil Pilot Scheme is a multi–phased project that will utilise five (5) existing wells in Turkana County to produce 2,000 barrels of oil per day. This oil will be transported to Mombasa by road.
The Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS) is an important step towards the Full Field Development (FFD) of the oil discoveries in blocks 10BB & 13T. The Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS) specifically supports the Full Field Development (FFD) by:
- Providing the Kenya Joint Venture with important technical well data;
- Allowing the National Government to establish logistical infrastructure such as building roads and bridges and other key infrastructure projects as required.
- Enabling the National and County Governments to gain experience and capabilities as the project transitions from exploration and appraisal into full development and production;
- Creating limited employment and business opportunities that will assist in building capability which can then be scaled up as and when the project reaches the Full Field Development; and
- Establishing Kenya as a crude oil exporter and providing valuable information on the international market for Kenyan crude oil.