Thursday, May 23, 2024

Uhuru: Here are the benefits from my foreign trips

Uhuru-TRIPPresident Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday defended his frequent trips abroad, arguing that they are in keeping with Kenya’s standing as a regional leader.

A statement by his spokesman, Mr Manoah Esipisu, itemised the benefits the country got from Mr Kenyatta’s travels.

Saturday Nation reported that the President had made 43 trips in his three years in power, 10 more than his predecessor, retired President Mwai Kibaki, made in his 10 years in power.

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The paper’s front page story elicited a deluge of concerns by Kenyans on social media.


While many of the trips may have diplomatic and economic benefits, critics argue that the large delegations that accompany the President and the attendant costs to the taxpayer undermine Jubilee’s message of austerity.

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On Sunday, Mr Esipisu listed several deals that the Head of State has clinched in his travels in the sectors of infrastructure development, education and energy, where more than 10 projects involving the Chinese have been secured.

Mr Esipisu listed the benefits of three previous trips.

In a press briefing at State House on Sunday, Mr Esipisu, also outlined the benefits of the President’s recent trips to Paris for the climate talks, Malta and South Africa, and also defended the large delegations, saying they were unavoidable.

“These trips have to continue because we cannot be the regional leader and shy away from taking up our role. Kenyans should take time to evaluate the number of meetings the President has attended abroad and the benefits,  to see that the trips have been necessary and in the interest of the country,” he said.


President Kenyatta, said to be a star attraction in international fora, Deputy President William Ruto and their delegations spent Sh2.1 billion on travel and hospitality in the financial year ending in June, which is 75 per cent higher than the figures for a similar period last year.

Mr Esipisu, who said the President and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta arrived “this morning” from just over one week out of the country, listed the number of agreements the President had clinched, top of which is a $1.5 billion (Sh150 billion) loan for the extension of the standard gauge railway from Nairobi to Naivasha.

According to the President’s office, the Chinese had also agreed to build an industrial park along the railway line in Naivasha, which was meant to offer youth employment as part of a wider strategy to curb radicalisation.

During his trip in South Africa, for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, in which China’s President Xi Jinping offered the continent $60 billion to finance growth over the next three years.

The Chinese also offered Kenya Sh4.5 billion for construction of a conference centre at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


During the meeting with Mr Xi in Johannesburg, President Kenyatta also secured a grant for 1,000 students, who wish to pursue university education in China.

A total of 13 memoranda of understanding were signed between the government and China for power generating projects in various parts of the country.

Mr Esipisu added that during the August 2-8 2014 trip to the US, the superpower announced the commitment of a total of $33 billion in new trade and investment Africa.

First Lady Michele Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush also announced a kitty worth $37 billion to support programmes targeting women and the youth from which Kenya is benefiting.

There was also the undertaking by MasterCard to support 15,000 students from Africa which is being done in collaboration with Kenya’s Equity Bank.

He added that the visit saw President Obama announce $7billion in new financing under the Doing Business in Africa campaign that will support US trade and investment in the continent over the next two years, of which Kenya is a beneficiary.

Mr Esipisu also defended the large delegation of 43 officials to the conference of Parties (COP21) climate meeting in Paris, saying the country had to send its top level negotiators to secure the best deals for itself.

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