Ambassadors and heads of Kenyan missions abroad will sign two-year performance targets binding them to promote the country's key products, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has said.
Speaking on Monday evening when he engaged Kenyans living in Rome, Italy, Mr Gachagua said delivery on the targets will be a measure of renewal of the contracts of the diplomats.
"All these ambassadors are going to market Kenyan products and hold frequent discussions with the host country on how to get the best deals for our products," he said.
The DP revealed that the ambassadors will be expected to submit monthly reports showing who they have met to market Kenyan products and what deals they had entered into.
"We will soon meet with all our ambassadors, high commissioners and their deputies and they will sign a two-year Memorandum of Understanding committing to these targets," he said.
Gachagua insisted that the taxpayer must benefit from the investment of running the missions, adding that promoting tea, coffee, horticultural crops and other produce will increase the country’s foreign exchange.
He explained that the performance targets will be based on an assessment of the market needs of the foreign mission saying that economic diplomacy is the new way of operations under the Ruto administration.
"We want to move away from the traditional diplomacy of attending meetings, cocktails, barbecues and such. Seventy percent of their work will be to pursue commercial interests of our country, to market our agricultural produce, to make sure our exporters get the best deals," the DP said.
Gachagua also challenged the Kenyans in Italy to work closely with the State Department for Diaspora Affairs.
"The diaspora is critical in our economic development. The remittance is now our number one source of foreign exchange earner ahead of tourism, coffee and tea. That's why we want to engage the diaspora further," he said.
He assured Kenyans in the diaspora that the government is looking into how to safeguard their investments back home in a bid to encourage more remittances.
"We are looking at how the government can guarantee their investments back home. Many of them have been conned and swindled of their hard-earned money, but we want to create a Diaspora Fund guaranteed by the government so that as they come home their savings are intact," he stated.
Issues raised by the Kenyans included requests for faster renewal of expired passports, the need for better working relations with the embassy and the State Department for Diaspora Affairs and connection to job opportunities.
Kenyans Diaspora in Italy Association (KEDITA) official Steve Ogongo commended the government for the creation of the state department saying they will work with it to solve their challenges.
“We are ready to have a constructive dialogue with the government that will be helpful to us and Kenyans back home,” said Mr Ogongo.
The DP was accompanied by his wife Pastor Dorcas Rigathi, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, Diaspora Affairs Principal Secretary Roseline Njogu, her Treasury counterpart Dr Chris Kiptoo and Kenyan ambassador to Italy Jackline Yonga.
On Tuesday morning, the DP held discussions with World Food Programme Executive Director Cindy McCain and United Arab Emirates Minister for Climate Change and Environment Miriam Almheiri at Food and Agriculture Organization offices in Rome where they discussed integration of climate smart agriculture in production of school meals.
He said Kenya was ahead of many countries in implementation of strategies to fight effects of climate change and rolling out of free school meals. Gachagua assured that the country was on course to provide meals to more than 10 million school-going children by 2030.
During a meeting with FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, the DP said the Ruto administration is keen to work with the organisation to boost food production in the country.
Dr Dongyu promised to enhance FAO’s office in Nairobi upon Gachagua’s request to enable it improve support to the country’s food and agriculture initiatives.
Later, the DP held discussions with Mariam Almheiri, United Arab Emirate's Minister for Climate Change and Environment. The UAE will host COP28 in December, about two months after the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi in September.
The two leaders discussed interlinkage between climate change and food systems as Kenya seeks to firm up climate action initiatives.