Kenya’s 53rd Jamhuri Day Celebrations in London were held on Monday 12th December 2016. The event which was hosted by the Kenya High Commissioner to the United Kingdom H.E Lazarus Amayo and his wife Mrs Nelly Amayo was graced by distinguished guests including the Chief Guest, Lord David Chidgey, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa; Sir Bill Cash MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Kenya; Hon James Duddridge MP, Former Minister for Africa; Baroness Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary General; Mr. Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization; the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps; High Commissioners and Ambassadors Accredited to the United Kingdom; Former High British High Commissioners to Kenya; Senior Government Officials from Her Majesty’s Government; Corporate Chief Executives; Kenyans living in the United Kingdom and friends of Kenya.
The event commenced with national anthems which were sang by Byron Consort of Harrow School where Gerald Kamau Barry son of a Kenyan Ms. Ruth Kirima was among the performing students. The consort gave an excellent Kiswahili performance of both the Kenya National Anthem and East Africa Community Anthem and also led in the singing of the UK National Anthem in English.
SPEECH BY HE LAZARUS O. AMAYO, HIGH COMMISSIONER OF KENYA TO THE UNITED KINGDOM DURING THE JAMHURI DAY CELEBRATIONS
- The Chief Guest, Lord David Chidgey, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa
- Sir Bill Cash MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Kenya
- Hon James Duddridge MP, Former Minister for Africa
- Baroness Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary General
- Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization
- The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
- Excellencies the High Commissioners and Ambassadors Accredited to the United Kingdom
- Senior Government Officials from Her Majesty’s Government,
- Corporate Chief Executives
- Distinguished Guests
- Fellow Kenyans, Ladies, and Gentlemen
First and Foremost, I would like to warmly welcome you and thank you most sincerely for joining us in this year’s Jamhuri Day celebrations.
Today, we are celebrating yet another year of our nation’s tremendous development as illustrated by impressive economic growth and improved welfare of our people. It is a time to reflect on the progress made in our economic, political and social spheres, a journey that began on 12th December 1963 when Kenya became an independent state.
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen
In the midst of the global economic downturn and financial crisis which have impacted many countries, our economy has remained resilient and very dynamic. The economy has undergone steady growth registering a 5.6 percent growth in 2015, and it is projected that it will expand by 6% in 2016. This can largely be attributed to significant growth in some key sectors notably agriculture; construction; real estate; and financial services.
The Government has continued to improve the Country’s investment climate and undertaken wide-ranging business regulatory reforms aimed at enhancing efficiency and significantly reducing the cost of doing business.
According to the latest World Bank report, Kenya has moved from position 113 to 92 on the ease of starting a business. This is credited to the implementation of business regulatory reforms in 5 indicators namely: ease of starting a business, protecting minority investors, resolving insolvency, getting electricity and registering property. These reforms have made the country stand out as one of the most attractive and favored destinations amongst emerging economies demonstrating Kenya’s readiness to do business and attract investors
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen;
The country, which is a regional communication and financial hub, has also leveraged its political and diplomatic conferencing prowess and is attracting major international events and conferences. This year, Nairobi hosted among others the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCATD 14) and the 6th Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development (TICAD VI).
On matters of peace and security, the government has continued to support initiatives for peaceful resolution of conflicts and promotion of stability in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region. This has been in collaboration with regional organizations such as the East Africa Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) under the umbrella of the African Union. This is out of the realization that peace and security are prerequisites for any meaningful development.
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen
At the bilateral level, you will recall that 54 years ago Great Britain lost a colony in the name of Kenya, but it also gained a real friend and partner. Kenya and the United Kingdom enjoy cordial relations which have continued to grow from strength to strength. These ties are supported by the shared history, language, legal System and values.
The close bilateral relations are further manifested in concrete co-operation in a number of mutually beneficial fields largely trade, investment, tourism as well as collaboration in matters of peace and security. Trade between the two countries has grown from less than Stg. £500 million in 2004 to Stg. £1.51 billion in 2015, making it the leading trading partner outside the East African Community.
The number of British companies investing in Kenya has grown from around 70 in 2008 to over 210 in 2015, and the value of investments stands at around Stg. £2.5 billion. The United Kingdom is also the largest source market for Kenya tourism.
These statistics, of course, are way below the potential in the two countries. We are therefore looking forward to expansion of the volume and value of bilateral trade and investment. In this regard, the Government of Kenya is keen to continue creating a business friendly environment and committed to keeping the economy open to investors including the Kenyan Diaspora.
It is out of these close economic relations that we become interested in the Brexit. We recognize that the EU referendum was a democratic process undertaken by a sovereign state, and the outcome reflects the will of the people. Kenya is keen on the outcome of the negotiations for withdrawal after triggering article 50 and subsequent framework that the UK and the EU will agree on for future trade and general economic relations between the two parties.
It is worth noting that Kenya trades with the UK through the East African Community-European Union, Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-EAC EPA) which allows most exports from Kenya to access EU market largely duty-free –quota-free. We are, therefore, looking forward to a framework that will not disrupt trade between our two countries. This is important to Kenya because the UK being the 5th largest economy in the world, is a very significant development, trading, and investment Partner for Kenya.
In the field of education, I wish to also acknowledge with appreciation the collaboration that happily exists between the two countries. There are currently about 3,050 Kenyan students enrolled in various Universities and institutions of higher learning in the UK, and 31 of them are recipients of the annual Chevening scholarships that are fully funded by the British Government. Another 30 are recipients of the annual Commonwealth scholarships while the rest are self-sponsored students. This goes a long way in supporting Kenya’s Human Resource development agenda.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that the Kenya Government values the contribution of the Kenyan Diaspora and has taken deliberate efforts to incorporate and mainstream the Diaspora into the socio-economic development of our country. In this regard, it is worth noting that the Diaspora Diplomacy is now one of the pillars of the Kenyan Foreign Policy. We look forward to continued collaboration with the UK diaspora and friends of Kenya and would like to wish you a merry Christmas and happy New Year.
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen
May I now request you to be upstanding and fill your glasses as we propose a toast to the good health of Her Majesty the Queen, to the well-being and prosperity of the people of the United Kingdom and continued friendship between our two nations.
I Thank You.
SPEECH BY LORD DAVID CHIDGEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP FOR AFRICA DURING THE JAMHURI DAY CELEBRATIONS
I am honoured to have this opportunity of saying a few words on Jamhuri Day – which, of course, is a very special day in the Kenya calendar.
In fact, I had the same pleasure two years ago just after you had taken up your post here. So I am beginning to regard myself as a favoured son of Kenya!
Indeed, I have only just returned from Kenya where I was involved in a parliamentary forum as part of a programme organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
My confession to you all is that this was my first visit to Kenya. I spent several of my earlier years in West Africa- but never traveled to East Africa. I’m so glad I have had the opportunity of putting this right.
My first impressions of Kenya mirror what I had heard – that Kenya is a dynamic country with an extraordinarily talented young business class. Kenyans are highly IT literate- and the country has huge possibilities for the future.
Of course, there are challenges. For a start, none of us are immune from the threat of terrorism. Kenya, indeed, has been severely tested and made many sacrifices. Across the border with Somalia, Kenya’s soldiers help to keep the peace – and some have paid the ultimate price.
This brings me back to two years ago, Your Excellency, when we last shared this platform, I said that it was high time we invited President Kenyatta to this country. I do know that if David Cameron had not resigned after the referendum he would have paid a visit to Kenya. The date had been set, but that is history now. And there really is no excuse for not inviting President Kenyatta here if we want to strengthen the bonds of friendship, which we claim we do.
There is also another reason why he should be invited which was the cause of David Cameron’s resignation. You may have heard of it. It’s called Brexit!
Because of Brexit, we need more than ever to cultivate the African countries of the Commonwealth, of which Kenya is a leading member. We need to increase our trading opportunities, as we are frequently told. We need to increase our trading ties with Kenya. We need to build on those ties of history and the very special relationship between Kenya and Britain. And we should never take our special relationship for granted.
So Brexit Britain needs a visit from President Uhuru Kenyatta. There is no downside. Both countries will gain from it. We will all benefit.
With those few words, I thank you for your hospitality – and hope you continue to enjoy your very special Jamhuri Day.