Moderator: Thank you. We will take those and then I am gonna come over to the right, then am gonna come to the left, then am gonna come back to the middle. So that you know, I am gonna do this…..
President Kenyatta: Quite an advice I have to my fellow Africans and I think the only advice I have is that which we have been consistently been saying and that is if Africa is to achieve the objectives that we have set out for ourselves which is inclusive growth, which is peace, which is stability, which is prosperity that actually reaches everybody. That cannot be done in isolation and we need one another.
Just as we reach out to each other as nations and this growing understanding that we have, that even in order to be able to expand both trade and investment, and ultimately create jobs, we need to break down some of the barriers that have existed since colonial times and to begin to appreciate that we must trade and allow our people to move freely.
So, equally within countries, we need to have that same understanding that countries can also not achieve their objectives if as I have just said now are in an ever-ending spiral of political competition. Political competition as I have said it is part of any democracy but I believe that, mature democracy recognize that we can have our opposing views but still be able reach bipartisan agreements on all those matters that concern our people.
We are not looking to lead different people. We are looking to lead the same people. We have so much to achieve in order to ensure we create full employment in order to ensure we create proper health facilities for our people; in order to ensure that we have the right education facilities. We cannot do all these things without one another. So, mine as I consistently say is to encourage leaders to allow constructive debate that allows people to come together to discuss those issues that we share in common.
We are at very low levels of development, and we can never and will never achieve our objectives if we are constantly engaged at each other’s’ necks. There comes a time that we must come together and that is what we have done in Kenya.
I think with regard to the diversity of Kenya, nobody is Christian. Nobody recognizes and acknowledges it and says that every single Kenyan must be treated with the same respect and is entitled to all the rights and we must recognize diversity in all the actions that we do. That is there in our Constitution, we accept and we are working towards it. That is partly why moved from….. purposes leading to a total destruction of our environmental.
There is need to distinguish between the two and sometimes we are not able to have a clear distinction and if we could have that, because ours is not to interfere with traditional communities who have lived there. We have done a lot to protect the Kaya forest and allowing the people in those areas, who use those areas for traditional rights and other things to continue enjoying their practises in those areas.
We have those who are still practicing as hunter, gatherers in Boni forest, in Mau forest as well. But we cannot allow those people who are encroaching on forest land for commercial purposes. And I think that is where we need to have a very clear distinction and people need to work together so that we are able to understand that those who are being evicted are those who destroying the environment , and if we destroy that environment, what are we leaving behind for our children. I think there is need for some clarity there.
I stand clearly with you on the indigenous people. We must be able to distinguish between those who also encroaching and destroying the environment and thereby destroying the future, also for future generations as well.
I think there was a question on block-chain, what we are…..right now we are talking to number of people and equally we have our financial regulators-the Central Bank and others, who are equally quite concerned, which is not peculiar to Kenya and I think financial regulators across the globe are concerned about the impact of the block-chain and whether it can be regulated and what impact it can have on the overall financial markets and the money markets, and are we able to regulate it in a manner that is also not going to be used as a medium for illicit cash transfers. So these are all things we are looking at but we are keen, and we are hoping within the next couple of months we should be able to be in a position where we can experiment and see whether this is something that can bear fruit, and help especially for us who are quite keen as you know in terms of money transfer-mobile money transfer, we are quite innovative and quite eager to look at new ways that can enhance the use of technology to deliver services to people. So we are not going to rule it out. We are going to continue working through, and am certain that once we’ve gone through our experimental stage, you will hear a bit more.
Do I have any regret about Williams and Amherst?
I have no regret about Amherst…Well that competition I can assure you 30 years down the road still exists.
Moderator: Thank You. I will take questions over here. So gentleman, your way.
Question: My name is Brian Muriuki, I ran the Royal-Dutch shell lap string business for Kenya and East Africa. One of the key enablers I believe for your Big Four agenda is energy, and access to energy and I will be quite keen to hear your thoughts on how you see indeed access to energy has helped to deliver on that big four agenda and what your government’s priorities are around access to energy. Thank You.
Moderator: Thank You. Are there no women who want ask questions. Come on don’t let me down now. Okay, good. I will come back to you. The lady there…thank you.
Question: Hallo, my name is Mukami Njindo, and am an accountant with Knight-Frank and my question is regarding, I know you’ve just had the elections, but it is regarding 2022. Are there any plans for us in the diaspora to be able to vote then because I know the last time there was rumours that we were going to be able to, but then we didn’t get a chance to. So am just wondering whether there is anything in place for us to be able to do that in the next coming elections. Thank You.
Moderator: Nice and forward looking. Great, and one more there. I will come back to you next time.
Question: My name is Julius Mbaluto, am a journalist-editor for Informer East Africa but also broadcast journalist here in the UK. Good to see you Mr. President in this particular new dispensation of handshake. But I wanted to…Mr. President I want to ask you in this spirit of handshake, what does the handshake translate to when it comes to diaspora? Do you have a diaspora agenda? You know I just came from Zimbabwe but the last sentence that stuck in my mind coming from Zimbabwe, was listening to a leader who was calling upon diaspora telling us 7 million Zimbabweans left Zimbabwe and in this particular new change, he was calling upon the diaspora from Zimbabwe telling them-“please come back home. You are our children. We love you.” Mr. President, diaspora is awash with skill-base, opportunities are there for the big four. What agenda do we have to bring back diaspora to invest, to participate, and also to feel like Kenyans appreciated?
Moderator: Thank You.
President Kenyatta: You know when we came into office only 32 percent of Kenyans had access to electricity or to energy, 4 years down the road we have managed to push that figure from 32 percent to now closing to 58 percent and hoping to move it over the next 4 years to 74 -75 percent of all Kenyans being able to afford or to have access to energy. And we are doing this because we believe it’s a key driver, it is a key enabler of the agenda that we have set forward to ourselves. It is a key enabler in helping those people who were previously left out have access to some of the things in many parts of the world that are taken for granted.
Access to electricity has enabled us to be able to start up markets that previously had died off and it’s pushing bringing back that 24 hour economy, people having fridges, people being able to store and improve the coal chain, which has been a major problem in terms of food losses… being able to create new opportunities via setting up various internet cafes and allowing technology to also be available to those in the rural areas as it has been to those in the urban areas. So to us it’s a key enabler of helping us achieve our agenda of creating employment and dealing with one of our big problems as mentioned earlier, which is job creation for our young people.
So this is an agenda that we are hoping to push and we are hoping to fast track, and again as I said earlier this morning, as a Government the key drive that we have now is to move out of generation, because we believe generation, and we have proof with the number of examples of a number of companies now, who have established generation capacity and have engaged with the Government on a power purchase arrangement. So generation we believe can strongly be handled by the private sector, we are now moving to transmission where again we think we can partner with the private sector in transmission, so the limited resources that we have as government can all be pushed to the last mile that helps create greater access, and we believe that if we can get this really rolling, there is no reason why by 2025 and our target originally had been 2030 but by 2025, quite …all Kenyans , 100 percent Kenyans should not be able to have access to electricity and energy, so that’s the direction we are moving into.
And coming 2022, as you know, this came in with the new constitution of 2010, 2013 we weren’t ready… this time a number of Kenyans especially around the region were able to vote, and we are hoping that by 2022, all the necessary mechanisms will be in place so that the entire Kenyan Diaspora can actually participate in the 2022 elections. So, that is work in progress, and I strongly believe and what we have been told is that Kenyans in the diaspora 2022 will be able to participate after the trial that was done with the region. I think the issues of handshakes…. I think, what we need to be able to understand is that…what is our desire? When we look at the agenda we have, when we look at the agenda the Opposition was also presenting to the people of Kenya, we want a better life for our people, we want better health for our people. We want better jobs for our young people, we want to be able to give people affordable housing, we want to ensure that we have food security and affordable at that.
We are not going to be able to do this shouting at one another, we need to bring Kenyans together and say if we agree on these issues, despite the fact that we may differ on other political agenda, on this ones we can come together and bring our people together and achieve it because if we achieve it, we are achieving it for all Kenyans, our supporters as the ruling party, your supporters as the opposition. So, it is a Kenyan agenda that we hope to deliver, and we acknowledge that we can’t deliver it alone. We need one another to be able to do so. And so that’s why we say we don’t need to constantly be engaged in competitive politics 24/7.
There comes a time when we say on these issues, let us have bipartisan agreement. On the issues we that we can’t agree, we can say we can face up to those in the next election. But we don’t have to keep our people 24 hour a day engaged in politics at the expense of the needs of our people. So that’s the way I want to look at it. And in terms of welcoming the diaspora, we totally, openly welcome our diaspora, in-fact we have set up an office under the ministry of foreign affairs for diaspora affairs. We welcome all our diaspora, in-fact we see them as the frontline investors who will encourage and bring along with them other foreign direct investment. Kenya is your home, you are welcome, we encourage you to come, just as we are encouraging… and as you know we have removed in Kenya, and I did so, in our December 12th statement, we have removed Visas for all Africans who wish to travel to Kenya. We say you are free to travel, to do business in Kenya, because we believe it’s just by bringing the continent together that we will be able to achieve our objective.
Equally, we have said that all East Africans are free to come, live, work, own property, own land, do business as if they are in their respective countries. So there is no way we would be reaching out to the rest of Africa and ignore to reach out to our own Kenyan Diaspora. You are welcome home and we are encouraging you, and anything that we can do to facilitate you, please let us know.
Moderator: You might just regret that… there is a lady at the back,
Question: Thank you so much for bringing this glorious weather that really embodies us… please, please…I’ve got my glasses… so I’ve got a few questions to ask you…
Moderator: you are allowed one…
Question: Oh really… what I want to talk about is inclusivity. What are you going to do to have a more inclusive government? Because this is the cancer that has really eaten our society whereby a boy Salim from Marsabit and a girl from Vihiga are able to get employment purely on merit and not on their second names?
Question(Reuters): I have a question about the rate cap… what are you going to do about that? Wil you be scrapping it or modifying it in some way? can you give an details on that?
Question: My name is Dr. Lucas Njenga, CEO Diaspora Community support services based in Glasgow, Scotland…
Moderator: You are all coming out now, aren’t you diaspora?
Question(Lucas Njenga): For such an inspiring speech which has really addressed a lot of issues that we have been thinking and contemplating about. Mine is a simple one, Scotland seems to be very far away from London which is not real, it’s actually 45 minutes from here by air but we seem to be completely isolated when it comes to real engagement in the diaspora. And I say this because although we get occasional visits which we appreciate very much from the Embassies we feel that Scotland leads in innovation, in renewable energy in many aspects of impaction to development and SGR is doing an amazing work in East Africa. We feel as participants fully engaged with what is happening in Kenya would be more, and more encouraged if we had a direct engagement with the government through Scotland initiated initiatives from the Government. Thank you sir
Moderator: I think they wanna visit.
President Kenyatta: Clear. On the issue of inclusivity, that nobody can be denied employment on the basis of their ethnicity. In fact part and parcel of the work of the national cohesion is to look at that particular issue that was set up specifically to look at that. We are not going to say that that still does not remain a challenge for our country, and in fact that is why we have if you look at most of the areas where government recruits it recruits on the basis not even of county, when it comes to military recruitment, police recruitment, recruitment of all the major government agencies that take up the bulk, we do it at the district level to ensure that no single community has been left behind.
In fact when we had a clear indication of as many of you will probably know who are Kenyan as well we had many communities which had for a long time have not been recognized, we have added the number of communities which are now recognized as Kenyans including some from Mozambique who have lived in Kenya for the last 40 years, the Makonde group who have been now made Kenyan citizens and recognized as a community and in fact the first recruitments of people from that community because they were not able to get jobs before because they had no IDs has now started to take place. All of these are aimed at ensuring that we have inclusivity and equity in government employment. And am not going to sit here and tell you that indeed its happened coz its not gonna happen you know overnight, but the direction is clear and I believe that my administration is quite clear on the need for us to have inclusivity not just ethnic inclusivity but also gender inclusivity. And this is something that we are actively and aggressively continuing to work on.
Claire you had a question of rate cap, indeed we have and you know we passed that law on rate caps, again we must understand the context in which that was done and I believe that a year down the road we have learnt our lessons. We are currently engaged with Parliament with the view of either repealing or modifying, this is an engagement that we are having with the National Assembly. But we all recognize the limitations of the law in the way it is currently structured and we recognize that there is need to either repeal it all together or to modify so as to deal with some of the issues and concerns that have come especially from the financial sector. We all can see that the impact that we had hoped it will have in terms of lowering the costs of money to the SMEs especially has not happened in fact it has dried up credit to that sector and i believe that there is now recognition across the board that that is something that we have to deal with and engage ourselves with and i am certain as we are now getting into our Finance Bill 2018/2019 that is the key issue that we hope to address with the National Assembly.
Then the issue of Scotland being isolated, well we are happy that Scotland still has decided despite BREXIT to remain in the United Kingdom, and we believe that 45 minutes is not too far so I will ensure that next time we have delegations that are coming to London that they will also recognize that there is great potential in Scotland and that there are Kenyan diaspora who are there and ensure we visit them equally and show them and expose them to the new opportunities especially now that we are moving into the oil and gas sector we believe that there is a lot that we can learn from Scotland that we can bring great benefit to Kenya.
Moderator: Does the ‘we’ include you?
President Kenyatta: The ‘we’ includes me…
Moderator: Ok, there you go, see what I delivered for you, not bad. This gentleman had his hand up.
Question: May be my topic is slightly a bit different, Mheshimiwa. I am from borderline country where the Cushites people which is the Juba land where the most activities there, Al Shabaab is there where you are fighting. Thank you Mr. President for helping Somalia people, it is very important to be stability, stable region but one thing now I realize that AMISOM is transforming, do you have any agenda for the Juba land people where 1924 Jubaland was part of Kenya and we rejected that it to be Kenya.
Moderator: Am getting really worried now please don’t ask us to change borders at this meeting.
Gentleman: No, no, no, please, please, this gentleman I just asked him to take an agenda in his own diary. This is the only position I can express my dilemma, my problem please.
Moderator: Thank You, thank you very much but am just want to put on the agenda that we are not gonna change borders at this meeting. The lady right at the back.
Question: Good afternoon Mr. President, my name is Angela, am a digital service…..
President Kenyatta: Sorry, your name is..?
Question:…and my question is following up on Claire’s question of interest cap and I just wanted to know what the plan is for the country to bring in the most poorest of the poor into this formal financial sector now that its hanging in the air.
Moderator: Okay, thank you.
Question: Am Vera Okeyo from the Daily Nation but am here as a student. My question is on the inclusivity, being that am Kenyan I know about the laws and the actual application. I would like to know the role where you place local I mean normal Kenyans who don’t have a name that matter coz now life in Kenya is very cheap people are killed and the rule of law is not there and in your Government I wonder whether if am educated am going back to Kenya and do what I actually trained for because the people you give jobs, I heard about one of your ministers talking about sustainable development goals and it was for lack of a better word he had not the slightest idea. So am wondering where do you place the technical people in your Government to actually make decisions about stuff like health and technical issues. Is it just about loyalty or the people who are qualified, do you use data, do you use research when you make such decisions. Thank You.
Moderator: Ok, those are some challenging questions for you.
President Kenyatta: Yes, you said everything is on record but first and foremost Kenya recognizes our international boundaries. So nobody should put that out of context in one bit. We recognize our international boundaries but equally we recognize the need for us to be able to work together with our regional brothers and sisters. And as you know not only Kenya but Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti we all have our troops under AMISOM who are working together with the Government of Somalia to restore peace and stability
so that we can create an environment where we help our brothers and sisters in Somalia get back to a level where now we can focus ourselves on the issues that concern and affect people. We are working together to see how we can ultimately deal conclusively with the terrorism threat. We are working to train the Somali army to be able to take up its responsibility because we equally recognize that AMISOM cannot be there forever.
This is a role that must be handed over to government and people of Somalia to be able to manage their own affairs we are only there in a supporting capacity we are not there permanently. I think the last thing I want to say is that Kenya equally and so does the AU recognize the constitution the federal constitution of Somalia that recognizes the regions and ours always has been to encourage all these regions to work together with the national Government with a view of bringing that country back to a path of peace, stability and ultimate prosperity to her people and Kenya will always be counted on as a partner in that endeavor. I think I have to cancel that one. We are not here talking about borders yah?
Angela on interest caps again that’s where we are saying that its clear to all, there was a lot of pressure ultimately that this was going to be the way to make capital available to SMEs and to small traders at much more affordable rates. What am saying it’s now quite obvious that has not actually transpired and that’s why we are saying we need to be able to relook at that law in order to ensure that while we try and protect the smallest lender. We must make sure we do so in an environment where he has access to that capital and that is the law and the manner in which we are working together with our National Assembly and our stakeholders to see what it is that we can do because what we have tried already has proven not to work. So this is work in progress and like I said, we are hoping that during our upcoming financial bill that we will have been able to have been engaged positively with all stakeholders to ensure that we are able to deal both with the original problem that we thought we needed to deal with but also ensure that we remove these caps that have proved not to work and actually ended up hurting our financial sector.
Whereas on the issue of inclusivity, for my point of view, Kenya is a country that abides and lives by rule of law and we have always maintained that we respect that law anybody who has ever or has a complaint against the fact that he or she has been mistreated, there is an independent commission that is been set up to deal with those particular issues. Each organization from the judiciary it’s not Uhuru Kenyatta who employs all Government employees actually all the employees that I have which are largely my ministers and my principal secretaries are appointed on the back of Parliamentary approval. I cannot appoint a Cabinet Secretary or a Principal Secretary without the approval of the National Assembly.
So the role out there are all in the public and anybody who has ever gone through any of the other institutions and who has a complaint on the manner in which recruitment has been carried out in any organization, we have now created institutions where you can officially go and launch your formal complaint because like I said our principle our objective is fairness, is just and every single Kenyan must feel that they are part and parcel of our society.
Moderator: Mr. President, thank you. Am really sorry that we have run out of time I know that there are a lot more questions that people wanted to ask but thank you to all those who asked the questions.
I want to thank you very much for setting out so very clearly your view of challenges facing democracy in a modern world particularly with respect to the political, security, economic and social challenges that not just the world faces but that Kenya faces.
I also think that the comments that you made in relation to trade will be warmly welcomed by the British Government so we will make sure that they know what you said but also thank you for taking the time to answer so many questions.
We very much appreciate that. And can I remind everyone of Kenya’s strategic importance. Kenya is a country which has to work if what we want for the African continent which is growth and prosperity and real use of the potential from the continent in terms of its young people. So we all wish you, your Government and Kenya well.
To the audience can I ask you to please stay seated while the President leaves. I know that there will be many of you that want to take selfies can you please resist.
Mr. President thank you very much again.