Good morning ladies and gentlemen and thank you for coming.
We have plenty to talk about today, but I will focus on three items namely: the regeneration of Nairobi, the President’s health agenda about which I have seen some discussions on the newspapers today, and the President’s visit to London from tomorrow.
1. Regeneration of Nairobi
As you know, the President met the team leading the regeneration of our nation’s capital on Friday for an update on their work. This team has been meeting for months and the President is keen that they move from the boardroom meetings to actual deliverables. This is a joint team of the national and county governments and is co-chaired by Governor Mike Sonko and Tourism CS Najib Balala.
The team has set itself an ambitious delivery agenda covering 30 days, three months and six months. Much was discussed in the last few days on the 30-day agenda, so I will dwell more on what must happen within six months. And the beauty of these targets and timelines is that those asked to implement the projects and programmes have agreed to resign if these timelines are not met.
Nairobians want to see many things, but let me address just three.
First. Within one month, there should be no piles of garbage in any of the 85 electoral wards of the city of Nairobi. Also, a clean-up of Nairobi River would have commenced, environmental awareness campaigns will be underway, and programmes for regular garbage collection should be in place.
Second. Traffic can be a nightmare in the city and this team is doing something about that. Full car-free days for Westlands and the Central Business District, a traffic management committee, the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system should all be in place, as well as the automation of bus termini and improvement of non-motorised travel. The launch of the BRT will be preceded by the availability of 39 buses and infrastructure improvement on Langata, Mombasa, Jogoo and Juja roads, as well as Waiyaki Way.
Third. Health is a big issue and especially the lack of accident and emergency facilities in most parts of the city. This will take longer than a month to fix, but still significant progress is promised within six months. That progress will include the improvement of facilities available at Mbagathi and Mama Lucy hospitals in terms of their trauma care, as well as in order that they lessen the pressure on Kenyatta National Hospital so that it can do the work for which it is set up–which is referral care. The upgrade of Mutu-ini Hospital to Level Four status; and the upgrade of 10 other high-volume health centres has already been identified, and we should see progress in that as well within three months.
To other matters, one is housing. Already you have heard discussions around the set-up of the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company to help with bonds for affordable housing. But what you will see that will tell you that affordable housing is taking root in Nairobi is the breaking of ground on Park Road for 2,000 units of affordable housing which should happen within the next three months as well as 5,000 houses in Shauri Moyo, 20,000 houses in Makongeni and 3,000 houses in Starehe. The team has a six-month deadline to ensure that the breaking of grounds happens, and the construction begins in ernest.
2. The President’s Universal Health Coverage agenda
The second matter I would like to reference is the President’s universal health coverage agenda.
Ensuring that each and every Kenyan has access to affordable health care is one of the President’s big four ticket items in this, his second and last term as President.
The President is taking aggressive steps in ensuring that plan works. Already, the counties of Kisumu, Machakos, Isiolo and Nyeri have been identified for a 100 percent pilot on universal health coverage. The pilot is important because it allows the National Government and County Governments to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of facilities and institutions that are key to delivery: it allows to assess the availability of human resources, logistics matters, and more importantly, how citizens are engaging with the program responding, and how citizens are reacting to the program. At the heart of the programme are citizens, Kenyans citizens. This is not about just who is running the program or under whose mandate it is supposed to be. This is about ensuring that the Kenyan citizens get the service for which the Kenyan citizen expect his or her Government to be engaged in.
The other 43 counties will also run pilots but they are limiting this to 10,000 citizens per county. This is of course on a much smaller scale compared to those one doing 100 percent, but it allows counties to start to see how Universal Health Coverage will work in their own areas. And it also allows counties to assess the facilities they have and how this facilities will respond in a situation where Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has taken root.
Secondly, For Universal Health Coverage to work effectively we have to look at how to go around preventive measures so that common diseases are reduced or curbed so that they do not become the source of stress as they are now on the health facilities available.
That is one of the reasons why Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki is going to Cuba this week. She is going to close on key agreements critical to the President’s agenda to reduce common illnesses, such as malaria. In collaboration with Cuba, the Government expects to launch this year a malaria vector control project in the counties of Busia, Kakamega, Bungoma, Siaya, Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisii and Nyamira, which as you know are some of those that are worst affected by malaria in our country, and where it requires aggressive implementation to ensure that there is significant reduction in malaria or there is an end to malaria
Why are working with Cuba on this? Some people have asked, the reason is really a simple one. Cuba has managed to eradicate malaria. Their methods, their medicines, their technology is proven, and we are collaborating with them to ensure that we can transfer those methods, technology and medicines to our environment.
Technology and medicines to treat diabetes foot ulcers and vaccines for HIV-positive people to reduce CD4 count, and also significantly reduce the ability to transmit HIV is also part of discussions Cabinet Secretary Kariuki will be having.
Obviously you have heard plenty about Cuban doctors, including the opposition to them by doctors unions. The plan is very much still to bring in 100 Cuban specialists in areas such as ontology, nephrology and dermatology. There is a massive shortage of specialists in these areas and the President’s mandate is to ensure his citizens get relief from whatever source possible. The Cubans will also be expected to mentor the Kenyan doctors they are working with in various counties across our country.
Bringing in the doctors will go hand-in-hand with the plan to send 50 Kenyan doctors in the opposite direction, to train as specialists in these complex areas of medicine.
3. Visit to London, United Kingdom
And lastly, I would like to talk to the President’s visit to London from tomorrow which will continue to focus his agenda on entrenching Kenya’s place in global diplomacy, as well as showcasing our country as an attractive investment destination.
Tomorrow, the President will start the visit as I have said. The first and second days of this visit are devoted entirely to Kenyan and regional issues, while the third and fourth day will be devoted to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which brings together the 53 members of the Commonwealth spanning literally the whole world, from the biggest democracies to the smallest, and from some of the wealthiest nations to some of the poorest.
On Tuesday, the President will visit the London Stock exchange for a meeting with investors, using the event to share areas of investment opportunity in terms of his Big Four agenda as well as job creation.
He will also deliver an address at Chatham House, the shrine for policy and investment thinkers in London. His speech will dwell on Kenya’s efforts in achieving inclusive growth, the positive role Kenya is playing in supporting regional peace, and its station in a globalising world.
It is essentially a platform for the President to share his view on a range of areas as a Kenyan leader, as a Pan-Africanist, and as one of the people closely involved in seeking and securing peace in our region–in South Sudan, in Somalia, and are also addressing the matter about which he cares deeply such as regional integration. He will also obviously speak to his Big Four development agenda, which is at the heart of his drive for inclusive growth.
This event will be live-streamed and we will be making the handles parameter available to you so that you can have links to that-https://www.chathamhouse.
On Wednesday, the President will spend time dealing with East African and African investment issues, and seeking to drive greater foreign direct investment into our country, and into our region
On Thursday and Friday, the President will attend the summit of the Commonwealth. Trade, diplomacy, security and regional development are the priorities for these meetings, and the President will also use that to deepen bilateral relations with a number of heads who he will likely meet on one-on-ones or in the margins of the Commonwealth summit
The President is also due to hold discussions with British Prime Minister Theresa May also centered on trade, investment, security, and bilateral relations between Kenya and the United Kingdom. As you know, the UK is a key traditional partner of Kenya’s, and a big importer of some our products, including fresh produce, flowers and tea. And we value our relationship with them
The President will also discuss Blue Economy issues, first at a conference that he has been to by PM May, and also as part of the Commonwealth agenda. The Blue economy is part of the themes of the Commonwealth summit, and are particularly important to us because of a major summit on this subject that we are planning to host later in the year.