Kenya’s foreign policy shift welcome

COMMENTARY |

NAIROBI: There is much to be expected now that President Uhuru Kenyatta has set the pace of foreign relations with the international community.

As opposed to the approach taken by previous administrations, Kenyatta has opted for a greater and more involved engagement, led directly by himself.

The last three years have seen Kenya develop agreements, forge new alliances and partnerships in Africa, the European Union, Caribbean and the Americas.

With the new and more personalised interaction with the Government, Kenyans living abroad can expect that the leadership will adhere to their mandate and facilitate even greater service delivery.

Overall, the objective of this administration is to enhance Kenya’s position in global affairs, strengthen links between citizens around the world and direct more foreign trade and investment to our shores. The global policy that Kenya has adopted is exemplified by the personal approach taken by the president. The result is clear in the deliverables brought home, chief among the achievements being increased bilateral relations exhibited in visits by foreign consuls, the opening of Kenyan missions in Algeria and Angola as well as the appointment of honorary consuls in Russia, Scotland, Italy and Switzerland.

In addition, the multi-lateral relations have seen a boost in Kenya hosting successive regional and international summits, and an increase in foreign earnings through tourism as well as direct foreign investments.

The values and characteristics that Kenya’s leadership needs in the 21st century were founded at independence. Even though it has been more than 50 years, still the words of our founding fathers steer Uhuru Kenyatta towards responsibility in light of the nation’s future.

Indeed, as Uhuru once said himself, “Equity, the constitution reminds us, is expected from those who make national policy. Equity demands that we attend to our own needs and those of our neighbours, especially where the sovereignty of our neighbours is threatened by internal conflict and terror.” In this regard, Kenya has directly and indirectly engaged in enhancing stability in Somalia and bringing an end to the escalation of hostilities in South Sudan.

Beyond regional security and stability, Kenya has shown a willingness to engage in foreign trade with our neighbours and has joined hands to develop the Northern Corridor project; a massive infrastructural undertaking that will radically change the lives of the millions of people of Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan.

Transforming lives has been the slogan of Uhuru’s administration and this is demonstrated even in his foreign engagements. The intimacy generated during his foreign visits between himself and the host nation officials as well as with Kenyans living abroad is remarkable.

That close, one on one interaction is a distinct marker of global leadership, where the world gets to be invited not only to Kenya as a destination but to Kenya as a partnership. There is much already achieved thus far, but Kenya’s overall goals include becoming a stronger and far more influential player both within the African continent and on the world stage.

Even as we develop ourselves through the implementation of the new constitutional dispensation at the national and local government level, Kenya needs to push forward and enhance internationally.

Crucially, the determination and hard work of Uhuru Kenyatta must remain on course. Upcoming envoy visits as well as the opportunities to engage the global community in business, in politics and in development should be encouraged.

Thus far, the firm yet open-handed method Uhuru utilises has borne positive fruit. It is this style of leadership that makes Uhuru a global leader to watch, and in my considered opinion one of the more visionary Africans in this century.

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