Your Excellency sir, when you took the reign of power over three years ago, our nation was in a bad shape. The social fabric of our country was in tatters. We were the laughing stock of many. Our infamous name; an island of hope in a sea of chaos was recovering from the negative reports that were engineered by a section of the international press. We were still limping from the effects of the post-election violence of 2007/2008.
We were viewed as an unstable country that was not worthy to receive any Foreign Direct Investment. We were a ‘failed State.’ Our traditional allies had started to sideline us. That’s how we were, at least in the eyes of the world.
Everyone in Kenya understood the potential of our nation. The fact that we are a resilient people. Who like the phoenix always finds a way to rise from the ashes of doom. The odds were against your government. Yet like the lion in our coat of arms, you brought peace in our chaotic jungle.
You folded your sleeves and went to work. You dived into the murky waters. You started to visit our allies on a thorough ‘charm offensive.’ Initially, many Kenyans were sceptical of the numerous foreign trips you made. The foreign trips earned you a moniker, a ‘tourist president.’ You heeded the words of Theodore Roosevelt when he said, “it is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly.”
You stood your ground. You intensified your charm offensive. Like a ripe harvesting season, the fruits of your foreign trips started to be seen. Slowly by slowly, the country like a patient on death bed started to respond to the medicine of your efforts. We started to see the visible fruits of the many hours you spent visiting foreign countries.
Because you toiled, Kenya has attracted investors from key allies. For example, the Japanese in the automobile industry have invested huge amounts of money creating employment for thousands of Kenyans. Toyota Kenya opened a Sh500 million (US$5.5 million) Assembly Plant in Mombasa in 2013. The same year, Honda Motorcycle Kenya Ltd opened a motorcycle assembly plant worth Sh450 million.
Kenya hosted the President of the most powerful country in the world, Barack Obama. In July 2015 during his visit, the trade deals that were signed during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit provided a shot in the arm for many SMEs that badly needed the boost. Even shark Daymond John came to scout in Kenya. We closed the year by hosting the 10th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in December.
This year alone, Kenya has hosted the Indian Prime Minister where economic discussions were held in a bid to supply essential affordable drugs to Kenya through the India-Africa Fund. An MOU to provide a telecobalt machine for cancer treatment was signed. MoU on a bilateral agreement to support agriculture and energy sector and on health cooperation to cover a project for India to help set up a cancer hospital in Kenya were all signed.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came too. He was accompanied by more than 70 business leaders in his entourage. The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed deals worth more than Sh2 billion. In the area of terror that has greatly affected the business environment in Kenya, Israel agreed to be a big brother to provide intelligence services to help Kenya combat terror.
The just concluded Tokyo International Conference on African Development attracted different African heads of state and a huge delegate from Japan led by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Kenya had the privilege to be the first African country to host the conference.
We could mention the numerous benefits of these summits e.g. conference tourism, indirect marketing of Kenya as a tourist and investment destination among others. The undisputable fact is that your trips are paying off your Excellency. We must support you to achieve the dream you have for our country.
Dear Kenyans, the time to rally behind our President is now. We must put our differences aside. When delegates come to Kenya, the tide of blessings they bring along can drastically change the lives of our people. When we stir our citizens to see opportunities, we create entrepreneurs. In Kenya, we cannot entirely leave the work of creating jobs in the hands of the Government. Private citizens and organizations can step in and save the unemployment menace in Africa.
Dear fourth estate aka the media, for Kenya to move forward, there must be fair and patriotic reporting. The western media already tries to portray Africa in the worst light possible. We cannot beat them in doing the job. There must be an intentional effort in telling the African renaissance story. That yes the continent has suffered immensely but it’s also true that we are rising. The media must not play to the whims and passions of detractors.
Finally, to the international community, Kenya is ripe for investment. The continent is teeming with potential. The world is now courting Africa for a 21st-Century scramble for its resources. This time round, it’s on a mutual benefit basis. Do not be left behind. Africa is the present and the future. Kenya is leading in extending an invitation to potential investors. As a nation, we are burning the midnight oil to make investing in Kenya convenient for all. Come and invest in the best country in the world.
By Chris Kirubi