UHURU’S RECORD 28 TRIPS IN FIRST YEAR
PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta has spent the equivalent of two-and-a-half months out of the country in the last one year since he assumed office in April 2013.
The President has made 28 foreign trips, a total of 70 days in 16 countries on official government business, or two trips per month, unlike his predecessors who rarely left the country.
Last month, Uhuru was in Kenya for only 11 days, the rest being spent in six countries on three different continents. This is the first time that Kenya has had a President who travels so much, toting up more frequent-flier miles than many top business people.
Presidential globe-trotting is associated with enhancing foreign policy, trade, industry and commerce and being the ambassador-in-chief of Kenya’s nation brand.
Uhuru’s first year is also easily the busiest first 12 months of a new president in terms of the number of visiting heads of State and Government hosted by Nairobi.
Most of Uhuru’s trips have however been around Africa and the sub-region spread across Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Burundi, where he has attended heads of State summits of regional bodies.
The President has also visited Nigeria, Angola, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Dubai, Qatar, the United Kingdom, Belgium, China, Russia, Turkey, and Kuwait.
Uhuru’s first trip out of the country as President was on April 27, 2013, to Arusha, where he attended the 11th Extraordinary Summit of East African Community Heads of State.
His second foreign trip as President was on May 3, 2013, when he attended the 21st Extraordinary IGAD Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Three days later, Uhuru made his first trip outside Africa as President, to the UK, to attend the Somalia Conference in London at the historic Lancaster House, venue in the early 1960s of Kenya’s Independence negotiation conferences. Uhuru addressed the conference on Somalia and later had bilateral talks with Prime Minister David Cameron.
From London the President visited South Africa on May 9, 2013, to attend the World Economic Forum. He held bilateral talks with South Africa President Jacob Zuma.
On May 24, 2013, Uhuru visited South Sudan on his way to Ethiopia for the African Union’s 50th anniversary celebrations, held on May 25 and 26.
On June 24 and 25, Uhuru joined Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame at State House, Entebbe, where they held tripartite discussions.
This meeting led to the “union” on infrastructure development within the East African Commission that has come to be known as the “Coalition of the Willing”. On July 1, Uhuru attended Burundi’s 51st Independence Day and also held talks with his counterpart, Pierre Nkurunziza.
On July 14, 2013, Uhuru attended an AU conference in Abuja, Nigeria, and also opened a Kenyan Chancery and residence of the High Commissioner in Abuja. He held bilateral talks with his host, President Goodluck Jonathan.
On July 18, 2013, he passed through Kinshasa on his way back to Kenya and held talks with DRC leader Joseph Kabila on regional peace and bilateral relations.
On August 4, 2013, Uhuru was in Uganda again, for the AMISOM Troops Contributing Countries’ Summit at Munyonyo.
Two weeks later, Uhuru made a trip to the East, where he visited Russia, China and Dubai, from August 16 to August 27, 2013, with the aim of expanding Kenya’s markets.
In Russia, Uhuru went to cheer the Kenyan team at the IAAF World Championships on August 18, before proceeding to China.
The China trip, which included a delegation of 60 businessmen and five county governors followed an invitation from President Xi Jinping. China’s Premier Li Keqiang visited Kenya last week and the two countries signed economic partnership deals worth over Sh500 billion.
On August 25, on his way back to Kenya, Uhuru stopped over in the United Arab Emirates for a three-day visit to woo investors.
On October 12, 2013, Uhuru travelled to Addis Ababa for a special AU summit, where he kick-started Africa’s onslaught against the ICC.
On October 28, Uhuru went on a three-day State visit to Rwanda, where he held talks with his host Kagame and various investors.
In November, Uhuru snubbed the Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka and travelled instead to Kuwait for the Africa-Arab Summit and spent three days. On November 30, he was in Kampala for a follow-up of the tripartite talks with Museveni and Kagame.
Uhuru travelled to South Africa on December 14 for former President Nelson Mandela’s funeral rites, with the burial held on December 15.
On January 15 and 16, Uhuru was in Angola for a State visit before going to Addis Ababa for a four-day AU summit, from January 29 to February 1.
In February he was in Kampala on the 19th and 20th and then in Juba on the 26th. In March, he spent four days, from the 10th to 14th, for a State visit and then two days in Arusha for an EAC summit.
April saw him visit six countries – spending 19 days out of the country. He attended investment summits in Belgium and the UK and went on State visits to Rwanda, Turkey and Qatar. He also went to Tanzania twice – the Union celebrations in Dar es Salam and an EAC meeting in Arusha. This month, Uhuru was in Nigeria on a State visit between May 4 and May 7.
Kenya’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta (in office 1964-78), did not fly out of Kenya after the 1964 Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting, which he attended as Prime Minister, and for the rest of his life. Kenyatta seemed to take an attack in which he was manhandled by two pro-colonialism thugs in London as his cue for not travelling abroad again. He left the globe-trotting to his Vice Presidents and ministers, among them Daniel arap Moi. As Kenya’s second President (in office 1978-2002), Moi toured all continents except Antarctica.
Kenya’s third President Mwai Kibaki (in office 2002-2013) travelled rarely and favored the UN General Assembly in New York.