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Under Jubilee, Kenya is on the right track

By Ndungu Gethenji | March 30th 2016

NAIROBI: A movie that inspired many in the 90s was released in 1997, titled the Titanic.

The movie was enacted out of real events that occurred in 1912 when a giant luxury steamship (RMS Titanic), making its maiden voyage from the UK to the USA met its catastrophic end in the North Atlantic, plunging two miles to the ocean floor after sideswiping an iceberg.

The story was turned from a tragedy to an act of heroism between Jack (Leonardo De Caprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) who were lovers on the ship. Young Leonardo De Caprio through his acting skills inspired a whole generation of men who became brave enough to take a bullet for the people they love.

During the run-up to the last election some of our international partners decided to ‘help’ Kenyans vote albeit through proxies. ‘Choices have consequences’ became a loud rallying call for the opposition. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, the duo from the Jubilee coalition were swimming upstream. 

When President Kenyatta got into office as the 4th President of the Republic of Kenya, our nation was headed for a major disaster; literally. The nation had not recovered from the 2007 Post Election Violence and the social fabric was in tatters.

More importantly, the international community had issued travel advisories crippling our tourism industry and our dirty linen had been washed before the world.

The bickering that had characterised the Grand Coalition government had painted an image of a nation that was being held together by cello tape.

Like ‘The Titanic’ Kenya was sailing in turbulent waters. The sharks had prepared a dining table waiting for our nation to crumble. Our ‘neighbours’ had already strategically positioned themselves to take over our leadership role in the region. A nation that was a darling of the West for a long time, an island of peace in a sea of chaos, was now being seen as yet another failed state.

Terrorist attacks escalated. Westgate Mall happened. Travel advisories were issued in droves. Our goose was all, but cooked. Yet the president never bowed; despite the challenges that would have broken a weaker man. Together with his Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary, President Uhuru Kenyatta embarked on an aggressive charm offensive across the world. In no time at all, Uhuru and Kenya were darlings of the world; sought for all international forums.

We had not sunk. We had managed to restore the dignity of our nation in the global arena. Kenya was now seen as a nation that once again was the center of global attention. One ministry that has worked hard to restore the dignity of Kenya abroad and open it up for international trade is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

In 2015, Kenya witnessed a number of high-profile visits by leaders including Prime Minister of China, Prime Minister of Italy, the President of United States of America, the United Nations Secretary General and Pope Francis. Kenya hosted the United Nations Environmental Assembly in June 25, 2014, the Governing Council of the UN-Habitat in April 2015 and the 10th Ministerial Conference of World Trade Organisation in December 2015; becoming the first African country to host the high-level WTO meeting. A total of 6,000 delegates attended the conference generating a total Sh1.71 Billion Shillings.

Last July, Kenya hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit attended by world leaders including President Barack Obama of the United States and President Ellen Johnson Sir leaf of Liberia.

Kenya also co-chaired the Post 2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, reaffirming the country’s leadership and expertise in global issues and promotion of international norms and values. Kenya will also host the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD VI) Summit in August 2016 and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIV) in July.

Foreign Direct Investment inflows grew from $597 million in 2012/2013 to $868.44 million in 2013/2014, a growth of 45.47 per cent. Similarly, Kenya witnessed 100 percent increase in Kenya’s world trade share, growing from 0.04 per cent to 0.016 per cent over the same period.

The ministry facilitated the establishment of AIR hosted at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies whose core objective is to lower the cost of remittances and also established Diaspora Portal; a new tool developed to reach, connect and engage Kenyans in the Diaspora.

The foreign affairs ministry also secured opportunities for Kenyans in international organizations enhancing Kenya’s image globally. We came back from a brink many countries do not come back from, and we should all be proud of it. I personally celebrate our Ministry of Foreign Affairs as we celebrate the 3rd Anniversary of the Jubilee government.

We turned the curve; we are on the right track.

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