At the reception Dinner to Mark the 54th Anniversary of Kenya's Independence on 12 December 2017, Al Salam Rotana Hotel, Khartoum
H.E Dr. Hassan Abdelgadir Hilal, Minister of Enviroment
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all for joining us this evening to celebrate Kenya’s 54th national day. I’m delighted to see many dignitaries and friends of Kenya here. We are truly honoured by your presence, and I welcome you all. Let me also send my best wishes to the Kenyan community living in Sudan. This is a special occasion for you, Please Welcome & Happy Jamhuri day!
Today we celebrate Jamhuri Day; ‘‘Jamhuri’’ to mean ‘‘The Republic’’ in Swahili. The remembrance of the time in 1963 when Kenya attained her independence from colonial rule.
So therefore today Kenya is 54 years old!...and Kenyans have reasons to celebrate as they take a look back at how far the country has come to achieving and embracing aspirations of our forefathers and their gallant struggle for our independence.
The country, despite many challenges, has made remarkable strides – especially mentaining a steady economic growth over the years and recording significant progress on a number of development indicators.
In recent years, much of the work that has gone into this developmental agenda has been underpinned by the Vision 2030 – the national development blue print, launched in 2006, and aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrializing, middle income economy providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by the year 2030. The vision is implemented through flagship projects and targets covering the Economic, Social & Political pillars.
Perhaps events surrounding the political pillar have been the most prominent in the news reportage, because again politics makes for good news! However, the country has been making steady progress in the other two pillars as well.
The political pillar has entailed the process of constitution making resulting in the passing of Constitution of Kenya 2010 and subsequent far reaching reforms that have ensued. 7 years of implementing the new constitution has had its own lessons and currently there is a debate whether there are areas of the new law that we need to revisit based on that experience.
But more importantly, on the whole, President Uhuru Kenyatta made it clear while assuming office for his first term in 2013, that his was to be the agenda of transformation. So what has this agenda stood for in the last 5 years? Let me dwell on a few highlights:
- Kenya has effectively moved from a central to a devolved system of governance, a challenging process, but Kenyan example has been acknowledged for the smooth transition, pace and the tentative success stories. Through devolution, every county has become a centre of economic development and delivery of government services.
- A firm foundation for economic take off has been built, including aggressive reforms to our business environment that have made Kenya the fastest-improving business environment anywhere in the world. In 3 years, Kenya has risen 56 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, from 136th to 80th. And there are new businesses to show for it!
- Massive infrastructure development including building an entirely new world-class railway system; and thousands of kilometres of access roads; expansion of ports and harbours, and airports.
- Multi billion investment in the energy sector to support industrialization and to spur economic activity in the devolved units.
- Connected thousands of schools and millions of homes to electricity.
- Huge investments and reforms to transform healthcare delivery, including free maternity programme, expansion of public hospital infrastructure and the transformation of National Hospital Insurance Fund that has improved access to quality healthcare for millions of Kenyans.
- Extensive reforms and investment in the education system including free primary education & digital learning.
- Provision of social safety nets and cash transfer programs for the elderly and the poor.
- Strategic investment in the security sector to meet modern day challenges of security including terrorism, cybercrime.
These are just among the auspicious initiatives in many other sectors.
We have just concluded the presidential and general elections in Kenya. The presidential election in particular, was probably one of the longest ever held in our continent’s history. Through the electioneering period our democratic institutions have been tested for their grit, tenacity and independence. In the words of President Uhuru Kenyatta at his inauguration ‘‘strength comes from being tested’’. As Kenyans, we have learnt that our institutions are far more resilient than we might have thought.
The hallmark of this resolve and primacy of the rule of law was perhaps the decision of the Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling, to order the repeat of the Presidential election following a petition by the opposition. Today, we are a people who can tell the world that we live under a robust constitutional order; and that our constitution is no piece of paper, but rather the living expression of our desire to live under the rule of law and enforce the same in dealing with our differences and grievances.
So the repeat election eventually affirmed the victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta, and on November 28, President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for his Second and Final 5 year term in office.
You may know that elections are hotly contested in Kenya and often the electioneering period can be divisive. But as they say, once bitten twice shy! Kenyans in their character have shown once again their resilience in calming the passions that accompany political competition, and now elections are now firmly behind us.
President Kenyatta in his inauguration speech, expressed commitment to solidifying the gains of his transformative agenda. The President defined the roadmap for the next 5 years where the spotlight will be on the following areas;
- Accelerating economic transformation through projects and sectors that seeks to make Kenya globally competitive, including manufacturing sector.
- The focus on programmes that can positively impact on life’s of ordinary Kenyans including healthcare, water, job creation, food security and housing.
- National unity and cohesion
Kenya and Sudan continue to enjoy strong bonds of friendship thanks to the frequent and regular exchanges both at the Summit level and among senior government officials. H. E President Uhuru Kenyatta and H. E President Omar Al Bashir have stayed engaged and have found opportunities to dialogue on important bilateral and international issues of mutual concern. As neighboring countries, Sudan and Kenya are inextricably linked, and Kenya attaches great importance to the bilateral relationship. We shall thus seek to exert efforts to continue on the path of strengthening bilateral ties.
The Joint Ministerial Commission continues to be an important vehicle and anchor for bilateral cooperation. The framework has witnessed fruitful deliberations in recent sessions culminating in the signing of a number of agreements in various fields, including Petroleum & Gas and Mining. Other areas that have seen positive development are the fields of tourism and education and sports.
The potential for growing bilateral trade and investment still remains huge. That potential has become even more real with the lifting of sanctions, and I take this opportunity to congratulate H.E President Omar Hassan Al Bashir for his leadership in this regard. On the other hand, building effective economic ties also depends heavily on bridging information and cultural gaps between our peoples.
We shall continue to proactively foster people-to-people exchanges, by exploring various forums for heightening interactions including through exchanging business delegations, education, culture, sports and tourism to deepen mutual understanding between the peoples. Education exchanges especially, have already set a positive momentum in this regard. There are many Kenyan students studying in various university colleges in Sudan. They have in the course of their stay, developed a high degree of comfort with their peers and this country, becoming thus a very strong bond between the two countries. I want to thank the Sudanese government for the opportunities given to these young Kenyans. And also to express sincere gratitude particularly to the International University of Africa and the Ahfad Women University for these placements. In the area of sports, we are finalizing arrangements for the 2nd Khartoum International Peace Half Marathon set to take place on 7th January 2018. We shall be making further briefs on the event in the coming days, but I take this opportunity to invite all of you to participate.
Kenya and Sudan also continue to work very closely on various matters affecting our region. We have, in particular, worked in concert within the IGAD mechanism to address the conflicts in South Sudan and Somalia. The positive gesture of humanitarian support extended by Sudan to refugees from South Sudan in this regard must be acknowledged.
The two countries have also stepped up sharing of information and technical expertise to confront terrorism and other forms of transnational organized crimes including human trafficking and cyber threats. At international fora, we have shared similar views on key global issues of mutual concern including climate change, the ICC, UN Security Council reforms among others.
Last but not least, I would be remiss if I don’t mention H. E President Uhuru Kenyatta’s commitment to pan- Africa integration. As you all know, President Kenyatta in his first term has been a strong crusader for regional integration as the basis for driving the continents shared prosperity. The President strongly believes that free movement of people is the cornerstone of Pan-African brotherhood and fraternity. Consistent with this persuasion, the President, during his inauguration directed that any African wishing to visit Kenya will be eligible to receive a visa at the port of entry. And to underscore Kenya’s commitment, this shall not be done on the basis of reciprocity.
Ladies and gentlemen
I wish to end my remarks here by once again thanking you for joining us tonight.
Long live Kenya – Sudan Friendship
May God bless you all!
Asante sana! Shukran! Thank you very much.
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