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Uhuru Kenyatta: future looks very bright

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto (2nd right) and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho (right) joined by Coast leaders (from left) Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, Omar Mwinyi of Changamwe Constituency and Jomvu MP Badi Twalib during the launch of the standard gauge railway line at Changamwe Marshalling yard in Mombasa

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto (2nd right) and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho (right) joined by Coast leaders (from left) Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, Omar Mwinyi of Changamwe Constituency and Jomvu MP Badi Twalib during the launch of the standard gauge railway line at Changamwe Marshalling yard in Mombasa

When we were elected two years ago, we were keenly aware of the immensity of our mandate, the urgency of national aspirations, the magnitude of expectation and limited resources available to enable us to deliver.

We had promised to bake a cake large and sumptuous enough to satisfy all Kenyans, and we had only so much ingredients at our disposal. Scaling down the commitment was out of the question.

Going by what we have accomplished so far, I can assure everyone that we are off to a great start.

In broad strokes, the background of our mandate was daunting. A young, ambitious, innovative and entrepreneurial population yearned for opportunities and services.

There was urgent need to fix the engine of the economy to power us into shared prosperity and churn out opportunities. Our infrastructure and resource deployment was not consistent with our aspirations.

The old enemies — Disease, Illiteracy, Poverty and Hunger — stalked the land. They had been joined by the menacing addition of Corruption and Insecurity.

We had committed ourselves to a capital-intensive plan to become a newly-industrialised middle-income country by 2030. We had to do battle with our challenges, and stay the course of rapid development. The scope of our initiatives simply had to be transformative to achieve the desired impact.

The first thing in such a case is to appreciate the full potential of our mandate. This is necessary to bring about a certain political humility: the Executive cannot do everything on its own.

Our success, therefore, is heavily dependent on the working relationship between the Executive and other arms of government.

Many countries that have been celebrated for achieving spectacular transformation in a short time did so with a certain measure of authoritarianism and Executive fiat.

From the start, this was not an option. Indeed, it is never going to be an option now or in the future.

Our mandate was to achieve transformation within the context of a progressive dispensation replete with checks and balances.

I reached out deliberately and began to engage the Chief Justice, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Parliament and the county governors.

It was important to have a common understanding that even though our mandates differ, we serve the same country, and our people’s expectations and aspirations are paramount.

I am quite happy to say that we now have a brilliant working relationship with all institutions, whereby our nation and our people are the first consideration.

Our transformative agenda is properly underway. Last month, I launched a scheme through which all our referral hospitals and two hospitals in every county would be comprehensively kitted with the technology and capacity to diagnose and treat diabetes, heart and kidney disease and cancer among other serious ailments.

We are making progress in complementing this with a national social health insurance cover.

By the end of next month, every primary school will be connected to electric power. Our children will have a chance to learn for longer, and to use technologies.

We are powering learning and delivering equal opportunity to complement the free primary education and the free day secondary education. With the powering of schools, we are finally in a position to have a go at the School Laptop Project.

INFRASTRUCTURE

On Saturday, I was in Kigali for the 9th Northern Corridor Integration infrastructure Summit.

This is a massive initiative to transform East Africa through the establishment of modern port, railway, road, pipeline and fibre-optic infrastructure.

Through our infrastructure initiatives, regional leadership aims for greater integration, more intensive economic activity, and competitiveness.

As we pledged, we are involved in transformative infrastructure development projects on our own, and in conjunction with our regional partners.

The standard gauge railway is rapidly approaching Nairobi on its way across the country and East Africa.

I have been to Mombasa severally to inspect and launch port expansion and capacity improvement. We are handling much more cargo at our port than we did two years ago, and we are faster, more efficient and transparent.

Ship turnaround has come down to six days, and we expect to bring it to three days by 2017. Roadblocks along the regional transport arteries have been removed.

The Electronic Single Window clearance system has accelerated the release of cargo for delivery to their destinations.

Because of these achievements, consumers throughout the region are experiencing lower costs and speedier delivery.

We have begun the great Lapsset corridor at Lamu, and will soon see the transformation of Eastern, North-Eastern and Northern Kenya into modern, hi-tech communities super-linked with the rest of East Africa.

We have increased our electric power generation capacity by exploiting our geothermal resources.

Over the last year, we have injected 280MW into our grid, leading to a reduction of power costs by half. We now have power export capacity, and are working to spread this benefit all the way to Rwanda. We also hope to increase our generation by 5,000MW by 2017.

The aim of all these infrastructure projects is to take control of the cost of production and, therefore, the cost of living. The savings and opportunities that will come to our people and businesses are immense.

Our women, youth and persons with disability have access to billions of shillings in concessionary funds to start businesses. This is accompanied with mentoring, incubation and business education.

Vulnerable people like orphans, the elderly and the severely ill can now benefit from cash transfers to cushion them against poverty. We do not want poverty to be an excuse for Kenyans not to dream and aspire. Prosperity is a reality.

GREATER IMPACT

The work we have done so far has changed Kenya and touched every person. In another two years, the impact of this work will be even greater. The lesson to draw from all this is simple: a fast-growing nation requires large-scale, institutional and systematic interventions to deliver services and generate opportunities to all.

Whether we are discussing insecurity, the war on corruption or the cost of living, the approach is the same.

My government realised that for devolution to take off in a manner consistent with constitutional expectations, serious investment is required. We committed to push far ahead of the constitutional threshold and share more resources with devolved units.

Today, the fruits of this investment can be seen. The grassroots are bustling with economic activity and infrastructure development. We are working even harder with the governors to ensure that no opportunity is lost in entrenching the devolution of power and resources.

My government has invested an unprecedented volume of resources in our security sector. We have increased the personnel numbers, and equipped them to enhance their capacity.

The recent legislative review was aimed at supporting our security mandate at the policy level. I am confident that my government’s ability to secure the nation is growing steadily every day.

Similarly, our ability to fight corruption has increased. It is not just about prosecution. The greater part of the war on graft is boosting transparency and accountability in the use of public resources.

This is the reason behind the move to digitise all government information and make it available online for free. Our Huduma model of public service transformation is aimed at injecting professionalism, integrity and efficiency.

Tenders, job advertisements, budgets, audit reports and other information is available to anyone, all the time. This improves the capacity of interested parties and even whistle-blowers to raise red flags whenever they spot anything of concern.

Accountability is of course a question of institutional mandates and the rule of law. The DPP and EACC are refining an effective corruption-fighting framework to ensure that no one gets away with abuse of office, theft of public funds or bribe-taking.

There is a lot more that we have achieved. We are doing even more. Delivering each of our manifesto pledges in full remains our manifest commitment.

Rome was not built in one day. But without a doubt, Rome was built. We are working very hard, every day. We are making progress. The transformation is ON.

A united, peaceful, prosperous, modern Kenya is at hand. We now rank as the third fastest growing economy in the world. By the time we are done, we will be the best, and we will be unbeatable.

-Nation.co.ke

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