President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday launched the Kenya Diaspora Policy as well as a new Foreign Policy, which seek to enhance the country’s engagement with other nations.
The President says the two policies will help the government put in place structures, programmes and incentives to attract and utilise qualified and skilled human resource drawn from Kenyans abroad.
Speaking during the launch at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, the president said through the Diaspora Policy, the country will develop and implement an Integrated Diaspora Information System.
“Kenyans are increasingly aware and proud of the important role they play in the region, and indeed throughout the world. We are an anchor for peace and security throughout our region, and in trade and investment. We are a gateway between Africa and the emerging economic powerhouses of Asia, plus the more traditional trading partners in Europe and North America,” he stated.
“We have redefined our foreign policy to ensure it properly supports robust reciprocal bilateral and multilateral relations in trade, taxation and investment.”
Among the wider objectives of the Diaspora Policy is to mainstream and empower Kenyans aboard to effectively make significant contributions to the development of the country.
“The main thrust of the policy, therefore, is to harness and maximize the potential of Kenyans abroad to contribute to Kenya’s transformation agenda while at the same time meeting their needs and expectations through a mutually beneficial and lasting partnership,” he stated.
The policy also seeks to mobilise Kenyans abroad to form, “town or country specific umbrella associations which have national outlook as well as regional and global umbrella associations for effective engagement and representation.”
It will also seek to enhance measures put to protect Kenyans living abroad.
“The Government will strengthen and enhance the capacity of Kenya missions abroad through deployment of additional staff to missions in countries with high concentration of Kenyans in order to effectively deal with diverse issues affecting Kenyans abroad,” he assured.
On the country’s foreign policy, the President says it seek to protect Kenya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, protect the image of the country and protect the interests of Kenyans abroad among other objectives.
He said the Foreign Policy is pegged on five pillars – economic diplomacy, peace diplomacy, environmental diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and Diaspora diplomacy.
The core of the economic diplomacy pillar, President Kenyatta said, is the search for a robust and sustained economic growth as envisaged by Vision 2030.
“While our economy was recently rebased making the country a middle-income country and the 9th largest economy in Africa, we know that too many of our people remain poor and lack opportunity. Economic diplomacy will form a critical part of our development push,” he said.
The President said Kenya has redefined its foreign policy to ensure it properly supports robust reciprocal bilateral and multilateral relations in trade, taxation and investment.
President Kenyatta disclosed that the Government will target new economic powers and more traditional economic partners seeking to increase trade and investment relations.
“While we do this, we will be paying special attention to our immediate sub-region and Africa which is the principal orientation of our Foreign Policy,” he said.
Under the peace diplomacy pillar, the President said Kenya will continue to collaborate with other African countries to strengthen the conflict-prevention, management and resolution capacity of regional institutions.
“Moreover, we will continue to work with our partners to eradicate the pressing international threats of terrorism, piracy, money laundering, drug and child trafficking,” the President said.
On the environment, President Kenyatta said Kenya will continue to play a critical role in shaping the global environmental agenda as the host of the United Nations Environment Programme – the first UN agency to be headquartered in the Global South.
He commended the leadership displayed by Kenyan diplomats on the multilateral stage in trade, environment and the post-2015 development agenda negotiations.
Noting that culture plays a role in shaping international relations, the President said Kenya intends to increase awareness of its cultural richness and generate global interest in the country’s cultural heritage.
“We seek to promote the use and recognition of Kiswahili as a continental and global language,” the President said, “We also believe that our outstanding sportsmen and women and artists are key assets in sharing our culture with the world.”
He said the two policy documents will govern Kenya’s external relations and consolidate contribution of the Kenyan Diaspora to the country’s development.
“While the Foreign Policy document lays out the principles that govern our engagement with the world, the Diaspora Policy will guide us in harnessing the wealth and expertise of Kenyans in the Diaspora to our development efforts,” he said.
The president also appreciated that the country’s efforts to embrace the Diaspora were recognized by the African Union in January 2014, when the Ordinary Session of the Executive Council accepted Kenya’s offer to host the African Institute for Remittances (AIR).
“The establishment of the Institute, the first of its kind in the world, will form a cornerstone in harnessing Diaspora resources for social and economic development in Africa,” he said.
The institute was launched in November 2014 and is expected to be fully operational soon.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohamed on her part said the UAE government officials will be in the country to assess the skills they are interested in starting this Thursday in a move that targets 100,000 Kenyans.
She pointed out that this will follow a recruitment exercise for skilled and semi-skilled personnel in three weeks time.
The offer for the jobs by the UAE government was agreed upon during a trip by President Uhuru Kenyatta last year.