Welcome today to this morning’s briefing.
Let me start with the President’s message on peace during this electioneering period. The President is asking Kenyans to avoid violence, it doesn’t pay and doesn’t give you the result you are looking for. People can be robust in their engagements, they can be robust in their commitment to their various candidates but they should strive to be peaceful during this period. It is very important for our country to ensure peace is what we are identified with, not violence during this period.
Secondly, let me talk about diplomacy. The President is pleased to be back home. His journey was long and productive, but home is always best. Let me quickly say a little about the President’s trip, and then I’ll turn to the matter of drought.
The journey had two main destinations: The United Kingdom, and China.
- London: The Somalia Conference
We start with the UK, where the President represented Kenya at the London Somalia Conference, whose overriding aim was to come with solutions to achieve durable peace and stability in Somalia.
Regional peace and stability are priorities for us. As the President has said before, if our neighbours are not safe, neither are we. Accordingly, the Conference, which brought together Somalia’s friends, was the first main stop of this journey. The talks were successful: leaders agreed on a broad strategy for peace and stability, and pledged the resources needed to achieve it. As friends and neighbours of Somalia, Kenya is grateful.
I should also mention that the President and Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom had very useful discussions on matters that concern both our nations. In particular, they agreed to convene a group that will come up with a new framework for relations between both our countries – this matters, because we want bilateral ties to remain unaffected by Brexit.
Equally, the President was pleased to find quite substantial interest in Kenya from British investors. As some of you will already have heard, the BBC is investing a billion shillings in new multimedia production studios in Kenya; 250 new jobs will follow. Kericho Gold, on the other hand, is preparing to invest KSh 2.5 billion in a plant out in Mombasa County; we expect it to create 10,000 jobs; and Equinox Energy Capital’s $250 million hyacinth-to-energy plant in Homa Bay is taking shape.
It’s clear to the President that for British investors, Kenya remains the first port of call in this part of the world. And to maintain that edge, it was important to continue to cut red tape –which the President has continue to do for a while leading to the vast improvement in the ease of doing business indicators published by the World Bank. And the President mentioned then that he is working on completing a one-stop-shop for investors which will be resided in his office. His main message was that: Kenya will continue to work hard to abolish delays and red tape to ease foreign investment in our country.
- Beijing: The One Belt One Road Conference
China has been, in the last few years, a loyal partner in our transformational agenda particularly as relates to the development of economic physical infrastructure. The centre-piece of that transformation is the Standard Gauge Railway, the first phase of which is complete; and it remains only to be commissioned on May 31. On that day, China – who provided the funds through loans that ensured the SGR was built – will be sending a senior delegation of the State Council, two ministers and one vice minister as the official delegation at that launch.
We do expect that the President will officiate at events on the container terminal at the SGR on May 30 and then will take the ride from Mombasa to Nairobi on May 31. That ride will include a number of stops along the way to commission some of the new stations as well as to address people that are resident in some of the counties that the SGR passes through.
When the President was invited by President Xi Jinping to visit Beijing, he glad to accept the invitation because of his deep belief that infrastructure is really at the core of development, of growth and of great creating opportunity for our young people who so much deserve so.
The President represented our country at the “One Belt One Road’” conference. Kenya was one of only two countries from Africa that had been invited, the other being our northern neighbor Ethiopia. Our participation reflects both the regard in which our partners hold us –which is very high regard – and our absolutely central position as the gateway to both East and Central Africa.
During the conference, the President reached agreement on new partnerships with China, which we expect to go a long way in supporting better the development of critical infrastructure in the region and beyond.
Some of that agreement included support for funding from China’s Exim Bank for the next phase of the SGR that will take it from Naivasha to Kisumu and the rebuilding of a modern port in that city. It is important to note that this construction and the port of Kisumu will bring the much needed, much talked about, much desired jobs that are on everyone’s mind but foremost on the mind of the President as he has some mandate to do everything he can to ensure that our young people get as many jobs as there are – and quality jobs at that.
It’s fair to say that these agreements show that our partners respect and trust us; and that Kenya’s standing in international affairs remains strong.
Let me also speak about two mega private sector investments that were announced during that visit, totaling around $4 billion in energy related to Lamu coal power project as well as the new special economic zone in Eldoret. These things show that it’s not just Government working to bring in investment but the confidence in which our country is held is also leading the private sector to put in as much as money. So they are not just speaking, they having their finances where their mouth is. As you note, $4 billion is more than Kshs 400 billion in private sector financing that will go directly into job creation for the Kenyan people in Mombasa and in Eldoret; and I am quite sure the people that eventually get these jobs are right across the country not just those two counties.
Still on the international agenda later in the week, the President will head to Taormina, Sicily, Italy for the 43rd G7 summit. The Group of Seven (G7) is an informal bloc of industrialized democracies (the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom) that meets annually to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security, and energy policy.
The 43rd G7 summit will be held on May 26th – 27th, 2017 in Sicily. The previous G7 Summit was held Japan in May, 2016.
Italy currently holds the rotating G7 Presidency. The theme of this year’s summit is ‘Building the foundations of renewed trust’. The Presidency highlights that governments should adopt policies aimed at meeting their citizens’ expectations, pretty much as we do here. The work programme of the presidency is based on three pillars, such as Citizen safety; Economic, environmental and social sustainability and reduction of inequalities and Innovation, skills and labour in the age of the next production revolution.
Kenya, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Nigeria have been invited to represent the interests of the continent and President Kenyatta will use this high-level profile event to showcase Kenya’s achievements over time and also show Africa’s interest in a way that is readily digestible on the global stage. In addition, because of the heavy issues of the day on the global stage namely: the world economy and security, this is an opportunity for our President to sell our point of view on how to foster inclusive growth and how we in Kenya, our region and our continent are working on security matters. It is a suitable profile for us to engage directly with the world and the President will be taking that opportunity also to engage on African issues.
The Outreach Session, to which the President will be making a presentation, will bring value and content to future decisions of the G7 Summit on how to partner for innovation-driven growth in Africa. To this end, participants will be encouraged to engage in a positive evidence based, frank and visionary discussion.
President Kenyatta has been invited to speak specifically on “the timeliness and challenges brought about by innovation as a factor of economic growth and development in Africa.” This is a massive recognition of the strides that Kenya has made in the tech area for which we are now a recognized leader on our continent.
- Interventions on the Prevailing Food Situation
Lastly, let me speak on interventions on food security. As you know the administration has been taking action to contain rising food prices. It is not lost to many of us that our region has endured one of the severest droughts in our history. Our production of maize and supply of food have been strained. Kenyans have had to work harder to put ungaon their tables. The President recognized that for many of us, this has been a real struggle.
Given the gravity of the matter, Kenyans deserve complete clarity. We all deserve to know exactly where we stand, and I think everyone wants to know exactly what your Government is doing to help. Everyone deserve to see the effects of what the Government is doing, the action it has taken to bring the prices of unga to what is affordable to ordinary Kenyans out there.
This series of actions outlined have been taken over time, they weren’t taken overnight, and all of them have contributed to getting the stability that was required in the unga prices. The bottom line for us is that unga is affordable again to the ordinary Kenyan and no matter the amount of debate or the amount of inquisition, there is likely nothing that can be done to change the fact that 2kg of Unga cost Ksh 90. That is just a simple fact.
21 May, 2017