BY KIPRONO KITTONY
Since clinching power, the Jubilee administration has had more than its share of bad times, in most cases totally undeserved but overlain spitefully, if cunningly, with an overdose of vitriol. That sustained adverse profiling has somewhat denuded the goodwill a government of Jubilee’s good intent ought to command.
Well, true, some of the regime’s head honchos have not helped matters much.. Among them there are those who have executed their duties in a revoltingly crude manner. Others have, altogether, failed to espouse a sense of wisely considered responsibility in light of so many ’empty-belly’ freedoms embedded in the 2010 constitution.
Thankfully, in the din of largely artificial doom and gloom, the President has stood out in very distinct ways. A suave go-getter with a sharp diplomatic instinct, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s hand was quite apparent at the just-ended WTO conference. Amidst grudging acceptance, the President’s touch has clearly brought to the national borders several firsts within Jubilee’s first term. Never mind Jubilee detractors will shoot down anything that is likely to make Kenya look good.
Back to WTO, those in the know will confirm that bringing the meeting to our borders and leading African negotiators to demand their pound – however little – is no mean feat. As a matter of fact, modern diplomacy is a complicated and multifaceted game that calls for considerably deep strategy.
But Kenya gave it her best shot. In retrospect, Kenya personifies a diplomatic attitude that is reformist in nature, a brand of international relations that develops and diversifies relationships whilst avoiding unnecessary conflicts. Kenya’s diplomatic proclivity seeks to foster understanding while proffering our country – and indeed the whole of sub-Saharan Africa – unprecedented confidence and esteem. Clearly, Kenya has what it takes to nurture a savoir faire model of diplomacy for Africa.
The highlight of WTO’s Nairobi Round declaration was the ministerial decision on Export Competition complete with a commitment to eliminate subsidies for farm exports. Interpreted loosely, this means that our farmers will stand an equal chance of selling their agricultural products in the international market as American and European farmers in due course. WTO’s director general Roberto Azevêdo described this declaration as the “most significant outcome on agriculture” in the organisation’s 20-year history.
What, however, Azevêdo did not say is, this will depend on how well WTO member countries honour the Nairobi Agreement, Kenya’s WTO Ministerial summit was instrumental in getting the only superpower, the US – alongside other rich industrial nations (including the European Union, Japan, Canada and Russia) – to circumvent what they often consider their national security concerns to close ranks with countries in support of the anti-subsidy agreement.
Kenyans ought to doff their hats for President Uhuru as the dust of WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi settles. The conference was a positive statement of Kenya’s capacity on the global stage. This historic feat is a true testament to astute diplomacy and ability in negotiation at the global high table.
In seven months, Kenya is set to host the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development conference. Going by our performance at the WTO conference, Kenya should up her ante even higher and do proud heads of state and governments, ministers and other prominent players from the business world, including civil society and academia, expected in Nairobi in July.
The year 2015 has been a great year for Kenya, with President Obama and Pope Francis gracing us with a visit. Kenya also rose to position to 108 from 136 in the World Bank global investment competitiveness survey, 2016. This is remarkable, given that Kenya has been recognised for improvements in key sectors among them credit acquisition indicators bolstered significantly by the introduction of Credit Reference Bureaus.
In addition, regulatory reforms in property registration, easing of electricity connection and improved procedures in starting business all enhanced Kenya’s favourable rating. These significant reforms signal – to the international community especially – Kenya’s readiness for business.
Regarding recent events relating to misuse of public property, President Uhuru is certainly fed up with corruption. Indeed, corruption in its cancerous and most insidious form is a great impediment to Kenya’s development. This is particularly critical owing to Kenya’s growing role as a pacesetter in Africa.
While I applaud the President’s commitment in confronting graft, I, like many other Kenyans, truly hope and pray that Kenyans will see tangible results in the war on corruption. We hope to see corrupt individuals and the institutions behind them dealt with firmly and decisively. This time round, we desire to witness the President’s opus magnum and from it a Kenya whose horizons will never again be compromised by crookedness in high places.
From the private sector standpoint, we reassure the head of state that we shall support his efforts for, like him, we have Kenya’s best interest at heart.
(The writer is the national chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry)