Kenyan wins Big:Global leaders come calling with Sh700bn

Ban ki moonKenya has scored a major diplomatic coup by hosting a high-powered meeting that brings together some of the world’s top bosses.

The leaders from the UN, the World Bank, the European Union and Islamic Development Bank Group are expected in Nairobi on Wednesday to announce the release of billions of shillings in grants for the Horn of Africa region.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Islamic Development Bank Group President Ahmed Mohamed Ali, African Union Commission deputy chairman Erastus Mwencha and the European Commission’s deputy Director for Development and Cooperation, Mr Marcus Cornaro, will be in the delegation that will meet President Kenyatta at State House on Wednesday.

They will be accompanied by EU special representative for the Horn of Africa, Mr Alexander Rondos, Africa Development Bank Group President Donald Kaberuka, and Igad executive secretary Mahboub Maalim.

The groups have pooled a Sh716 billion ($8 billion) fund, which Kenya will share with Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia to restore peace and trigger economic growth in the Horn of Africa.

Almost one-and-a-half years since the international community appeared to shun Kenya after the March 4 General Election, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed now says the mission was testimony that the country has regained her position in the world community.

“It proves that the international community now views Kenya in a positive way and is ready to work with Kenya as the anchor of the Horn of Africa,” she said in a telephone interview.

Last year, western envoys had warned against electing the Jubilee coalition’s Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who were facing charges at the International Criminal Court.

WORKED HARD

The top US diplomat in Africa warned Kenyans that “choices have consequences”, while the British High Commissioner cautioned that relations would be limited to “essential contacts” if the pair was elected.

The CS said the Jubilee government headed by President Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto has worked hard on its image and the efforts have started to bear fruit.

“It shows the confidence that they have in the Jubilee administration and their readiness to work with the government.” The leaders will arrive on Wednesday morning from Ethiopia where they started their tour on Monday.

They will hold meetings with President Kenyatta on Wednesday after which they will meet key business and civil society representatives on Thursday.

The President is expected to demonstrate to the leaders the responsibility Kenya has shouldered in restoring regional peace and the price it has paid, including exposure to terrorism, a statement from State House said.

“The over-arching theme of these visits is that there can be no peace without development and no development without peace.”

The visit could indicate that the Western world is keen to shore up peace and security in the volatile Horn of Africa region, where Somalia has become a major base for global terrorism.

Said Mr Ban: “The countries of the Horn of Africa are making important yet unheralded progress in economic growth and political stability. Now is a crucial moment to support those efforts, end the cycles of conflict and poverty, and move from fragility to sustainability.”

Announcing a Sh161 billion ($1.8 billion) pledge to finance cross-border projects in the seven countries to boost economic growth, reduce poverty and trigger business activity, Mr Jim said the fund was an opportunity for the region to come out of poverty and grow economically.

“There is greater opportunity now for the Horn of Africa to break free from its cycles of drought, food insecurity, water insecurity and conflict by building up regional security, generating a peace dividend, especially among young women and men and spurring more cross-border cooperation.”

The World Bank has published a paper which forecasts that Kenya, Uganda and Somalia and Ethiopia will undergo a dramatic economic change when oil production starts in the next few years.

“To Uganda’s more than two billion barrels of reserves have been added oil finds in Ethiopia’s south Omo region and in Kenya’s Turkana — discoveries that rival some of the most productive oil fields on the continent.

BEYOND FIVE PERCENT

“The secessionist state of Somaliland has signed production-sharing agreements with foreign firms on areas yet to be drilled, and exploration firms report substantial prospects along Somalia’s coastline that need to be tested by drilling,” it says.

Last month, Kenya passed the World Bank’s lower-middle-income threshold when it rebased its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) become a middle level income country with its economic project to grow beyond five per cent this financial year.

-nation.co.ke

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