, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 15 – President Mwai Kibaki has welcomed the support Kenya has obtained from both its citizens and regional governments in the operation to deal with militants based in Somalia who have sought to destabilise the region’s economies.
President Kibaki pointed out that a stable and peaceful Somalia will bring about the desired environment needed to take the region to the next level of transformation through programmes that cut across nations.
“As we embark on planning our infrastructure programs I wish to underscore the importance of peace and stability in our region,” President Kibaki said.
The President was speaking on Tuesday at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre when he officially opened the Regional Infrastructure Conference. The theme of the Conference was “Better Infrastructure, Better Life.”
President Kibaki said it was critical for countries in the region to start undertaking projects that cut across the region, pointing out the need for regional economies to jointly plan projects that benefit the whole region.
“Think together. Plan together,” the president challenged conference participants drawn from the East Africa region.
The president expressed the need to implement a clear framework of facilitating private sector participation in infrastructure development either on its own or in partnership with governments.
“Indeed, it is my conviction that the challenges of infrastructure development constitute opportunities for investment that can be tapped by the private sector,” President Kibaki said.
The President Kibaki said he was glad that his government has finalised a Bill that is to be tabled in Parliament whose objective is to facilitate private sector investments in infrastructure development and management.
Said President Kibaki: “I am confident that with the participation of the private sector we can mobilize our own resources to finance infrastructure development.”
Noting that lack of adequate financial resources remained one of the greatest challenges in infrastructure development in the region, the president called for innovative ways of raising finances including harnessing domestic savings through capital markets.
He said through the capital markets countries in the region could tap domestic savings as well as global investment funds and commit them to infrastructure development through equity or debt mechanisms.
“While we continue to seek the financial support of our development partners, it has become increasingly clear that we must also explore other means of raising financial resources for infrastructure development,” President Kibaki said.
President Kibaki informed the conference participants that his government is currently undertaking the most ambitious infrastructure investment programs in the nation’s history.
Pointing out the development of the Lamu Port – South Sudan – Ethiopia Transport Corridor project, the President said this new transport corridor will open up vast parts of Kenya and stimulate economic and social development.
He added that the project will link Kenya to Ethiopia and South Sudan through pipeline, railway line and highway thereby enhancing trade and investments in our region.
Said the President: “In the long term, this project will contribute to the development of the Trans-Africa highway which is a key project under the African Union.”
President Kibaki disclosed that Kenya was undertaking other interventions including the expansion as well as modernization of airports, pipeline, roads and telecommunications in order to meet the regional demand for efficient transport services.
The President said the government has also continued to modernize the port of Mombasa in recognition of the importance of the port in facilitating regional trade and investments.
President Kibaki assured regional partners of his Government’s commitment to ensuring efficient and timely port services.
The President once again, underscored the need to accelerate investments in infrastructure development in order to transform the region into a globally competitive market that is able to attract increased investments.
“It is on the basis of this understanding that my Government, in collaboration with key stakeholders, organized this Conference to review the status of infrastructure development and chart the way forward,” the President said.
Noting that the conference brought together experts from the various infrastructure sub-sectors as well as members of the private sector, President Kibaki expressed confidence that the conference would come up with practical recommendations that are informed by experts as well as the end users of infrastructure.
During the occasion, President Kibaki launched various cost estimation manuals prepared by the Ministry of the Roads among them the Cost Estimation Manuals for Road Maintenance Works, Standard Tender Documents and the Unit Rates and Performance Based Contracts.
In his remarks, the Minister for Roads Franklin Bett noted that the heavy investments being implemented by regional governments would be in vain if corresponding interventions are not taken to protect the installed facilities.
In this regard, Bett stressed that stipulated regulations on load axle limits must be strictly adhered to so as to extend the lifespan of constructed roads while all bulk cargo should be transported by the railway.
He thanked President Kibaki for prioritising and giving unwavering support to infrastructural development in the country and in particular the continued enhancement in budgetary allocation for achievement of better road network in the country and in the region.
Others who addressed the regional conference included Permanent Secretary Ministry of Roads Eng Michael Kamau, the Chairman, Engineers Registration Board, United Republic of Tanzania Prof Ninatibu Lema and the Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Amb. Toshihisa Takata.
In attendance were Cabinet Ministers Fred Gumo, Mohammed Elmi, Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Amb Francis Muthaura, senior government officials and regional delegates.