IN his inaugural speech, on 28th November, 2017 at Karasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta covered a wide range of issues, from internal affairs of Kenya, to East African Region and the African Continent at large, especially economic perspectives.
Concerning internal affairs of the country, the President unveiled his ambitious plan to build bridges and unite Kenyans who were deeply divided during the elections. He reached out to all political leaders to join him to unite Kenyans and build the country.
The President assured Kenyans that he will serve them without favours and urged them to forge a peaceful co-existence. He called upon the three arms of the government to work together and each of them to discharge their functions in accordance with the constitution.
President Uhuru further laid down the success of his administration for the past four years, citing improved infrastructure like the construction of the standard gauge railway, improved health care services and fruits of devolution which remain a centre of development of each forty seven county.
As he begins his final term in office, President Kenyatta vowed to make Kenya a 24hour economy by reducing electricity traffic, expanding small and medium enterprise (SMEs) in order to foster growth and create more job opportunities.
The President further promised to ease the process of doing business and attract more investment opportunities. In matters regarding East Africa Integration, President Kenyatta said his administration would welcome all citizens from the East Africa Countries to Kenya.
“As a mark of our continued commitment to you, our brothers and sisters in the East African Community; from today, you will be treated like Kenyans. Like your Kenyan brothers and sisters, you will need only your identity card. You can now work, do business; own property, farm and if you wish, and find a willing partner, you can marry and settle in Kenya,” he stated.
He said that his administration will do that without requesting for reciprocity from other EAC member Statesin order to deepen reginal integration in EAC. Economically,this will bloom Kenya’s progress in tourism, trade and investment sectors.
According to Kenya’s Economic Survey report of 2017, tourism sector improved by 17.8 per cent from ksh 84.6 billion in 2015 to Ksh 99.7 per cent billion in 2016. The tourist from East African countries arriving in Kenya will increase and Kenya’s tourism sector will experience wide range of growth and further accelerate Kenya’s GDP’s growth which currently stands 6.1 percent.
It should be noted that according to World Tourism Organization under competitive index of 2013 Kenya’s tourism dropped by 25per cent where by it ranked 8th position in Africa by tourism income while her neighbour, Tanzania ranked 6th by tourism income, 12th by number of tourists arrivals and 109th globally ad that was the first time Tanzania ranked on top of Kenya.
Other sectors of economy which are expected to increase their growth are transport, storage, small and medium enterprises. One of the main goals of EAC is to reach deeper Economic Integration through already established Customs Union in 2004 and Common Market in 2009 .
The Common Market Protocol of East African Community will fully realize its vision of the free movement of capital, services and goods in order to deepen integration between EAC States. Kenya is committed to EAC integration process.
Since the implementation of Common Market protocol in 2010, the agreement has been facing challenges in its implementation especially few members of EAC like Tanzania and Burundi have not implemented it but now Kenya is looking deeper on it.
Under EAC Common Market Protocol Kenya is expected to receive a lot of investments from the member states of the region. The movement of people, goods and services and capital together with trade flow and trade activities are expected to increase in Kenya from EAC member states under the second term of Kenyatta as he has given a hope from his speech as far as Economic Diplomacy is concerned.
At the continental level, the President cited Kenya’s commitment to Pan-Africanism brotherhood and fraternity.He stated that the visas would not be issued on a reciprocal basis and was made to enable free trade and cooperation with the various African nations.
“The freer we are to travel and live with one another, the more integrated and appreciative of our diversity, we will become. The political balkanization that risks our mutual security, the negative politics of identity, will recede as our brotherhood expands to embrace more Africans,” he said.
President promised African Citizens to receive Visa upon arrival at the point of entry in Kenya. This will foster integration at the African Continent. This will have several implications at Kenya’s tourism sector, trade and investment sector.
The Government of Kenya targets to increase arrivals of tourists from the African Countries. This shows that Kenya wants to put herself as a best destination to visit within Africa by simplifying the process although many tourist visiting Kenya come from Europe and America African Continent is facing threats from transnational organized crimes such as terrorism, human and drug trafficking, money laundering.
Kenya’s security agents are supposed to vet and screen properly all citizens of other nationals upon arrivals in order to secure the security interest of the Country. For President Kenyatta to achieve his vision for Kenya, he has to foster political stability.
Any political uncertainty in Kenya will scare investors and damage the economy. The President’sadministration should bridge the gap that may threaten the country’s unity.
For Kenya to attain its vision of 2030,foster economic growth, development and re-build confidence in the foreign investors and the international community, the President has to tackle and solve any internal misunderstandings, just as he said:“I call upon Kenyan’s to abstain from political violence and focus on development. Political leaders across the political divide should shun hate speech and foster unity and political tolerance”.
● Mohamed Mansour is a Tanzanian andPhD candidate in Economics& Assistant Lecturer,Department of Political Economy at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow