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January 20, 2019

MACHEL WAIKENDA: Kenya to gain from Uhuru’s trips


"We live in an interconnected world and people should be thoughtful about the impact that their choices have on their nation, on the region, on the economy, on the society and on the world in which they live. Choices have consequences.”

These were the words of Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson in February of 2013, just weeks to the March 4 election in Kenya. His words were seen as a warning to Kenyans not to elect the two leaders who were facing charges at the International Criminal Court. At the time, then TNA candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, who were facing criminal charges at the ICC, were the leading. Kenyans ignored this warning and elected Uhuru and Ruto, choosing to live with the consequences.

Fast forward to August this year, there is a flurry of activities in Kenya with the opening up of the diplomatic space and engagement with international leaders. President Kenyatta is now a darling of the international community and this is coming with great tidings for Kenya. Last week, the President was in the US following an invitation by President Donald Trump. Uhuru is the second sub-Saharan Africa leader to be invited to the White House, which underscores Kenya’s place in America’s engagement with Africa.

The President witnessed the signing of two agreements that will see two US companies invest $238 million (Sh24 billion) in projects in Kenya. The President also urged the US government to facilitate the operations of US businesses in Africa.

Uhuru and Trump pledged to build on acquisition of military equipment made in the US as a way of enhancing the war against terror in the region.

A day after arriving from the US, UK Prime Minister Theresa May jetted into the country in her first Africa tour that also took her to South Africa and Nigeria. This again underscores the position Uhuru has placed Kenya in as an African powerhouse. May and Uhuru witnessed the signing of two important agreements, one of which is on the return of proceeds of economic crimes to Kenya. The two in their joint press conference also announced new areas of cooperation and financial support.

May also visited the Embakasi Police Training College, where she opened a new cyber-crime security wing. This week, Uhuru is in Beijing for the China Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. As part of his trip, he will be holding talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and also witness the signing of Sh380 billion for construction of phase two of the SGR, which will run from Naivasha to Kisumu.

This has arguably been Kenya’s most aggressive diplomatic space in history and it is good to see other countries eager to welcome and support our nation. Never have we seen such quick succession of visits from heads of State or the President going to meet them in their countries as we have seen with Uhuru.

The engagement with world leaders and the red carpet that is being rolled out for President Kenyatta is a confirmation the world stage recognises and approves of his leadership.

Our President has put the country on the world map and it’s up to Kenyans to build on this by ensuring we have a conducive environment for business. We must foster peace and ensure we slay the monster of corruption as part of these efforts. All of these diplomatic efforts will see an increase in external investments into the country. Additionally, Kenyan exports will gain new markets, therefore, building our economy, thus creating jobs and income for mwananchi.

It’s interesting to note that we are building relations with the East and West concurrently, which will be a big win for the Kenyan people. Let us all do all we can to ensure the President’s efforts do not go to waste.

Political and communications consultant

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