By Uhuru Kenyatta
Following is an excerpt of a speech by the DPM at Africa Forum For Business and Security held at last Friday.
A round the world, major economies are gripped by recession and saddled with debt. Yet today, Africa finds its prospects have never been brighter. We stand on the threshold of an African Renaissance.
Seven of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are African. With the economies of the West slowed and rising costs in Asia, foreign investment in Africa has been steadily increasing and potential abounds in minerals, oil, gas, and the natural talents of our people.
And Kenya is no exception — we have extraordinary potential. We are blessed with rich natural resources, a strong and growing middle class, improving infrastructure and a well-educated workforce.
However, that potential is still not realised. While there is no doubt our nation’s potential is great we must also concede that the problems we face are equally profound. Far too many of our people are not enjoying the benefits of national success.
Negative ethnicity, religious extremism, terrorism and economic marginalisation still hobble our efforts to succeed. A gnawing sense of insecurity, fanned by youth unemployment and endemic poverty troubles our nation causing fear and uncertainty. That fear and uncertainty has turned some areas in this country into breeding grounds for hostility and aggression.
It has made some of our youth to see the false shelter of security in criminal gangs, still others have turned to drug-trafficking and robbery, while others have even become ensnared by the lies and distortions of terrorist groups.
Our common goals and hopes for the future are threatened by these persistent; common enemies. What holds us together is stronger than any conflicting interests that have ever threatened to tear us apart.
The economic uncertainty and political unrest and upheaval around the world and in Africa represent a threat to all of us. This is why the unique conditions of our time make the discussion on security ever more important and personal to all of us.
And even as we stand on common ground and forge alliances across conventional borders, it is our responsibility to spread that message of unity to all our citizens and create an environment where they can stand as one.
Keeping citizens safe is the first and paramount duty of any government. Yet terrorists attack marketplaces, bus stations and churches, yet the next drought or round of disease could destroy our people and set-off a cycle of poverty. Yet easy access to guns and knives makes recourse to violence the first choice of many for settling disputes.