NAIROBI, May 30 – President Mwai Kibaki arrived back in Nairobi Friday after a five-day development conference in Japan, which centred on helping African countries achieve their Millennium Development Goals.
The President, who termed his visit as a success, said he held several discussions with Japanese leaders who pledged to help Kenya strengthen the mainstay sectors of the economy.
The President said: “Fellow Kenyans, let us be encouraged by the unique economic success story of Japan, a country that has no major natural resources, but whose success is based on the hard work of its people. Similarly, God has endowed our country with a hardworking and innovative people.”
He said Japanese and Kenyan officials would soon negotiate a line of credit for Sh21 billion to fund the Olkaria geothermal electricity project, which will add an extra 140 megawatts to the national grid.
The President meanwhile mentioned peace and security as key pillars that will guarantee rapid development of the country.
“We must harness our diversity by remaining united in our common endeavors to improve the well being of our people,” said President Kibaki.
During his visit, the President held bilateral talks with various leaders from the Government of Japan aimed at strengthening various sectors that are the mainstay of Kenya’s economy.
“The trip to Japan was in line with my strongly held belief that we must position our nation to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the world economy,” said the President.
With regard to the Port of Mombasa President Kibaki revealed that the government of Japan has also provided Kenya with a concessional loan of over Sh15 billion for its modernization.
“The upgrading of the Mombasa port remains critical and is in our interest and that of the regional economies that are reliant on the port,” added the President.
To improve the traffic flow in Nairobi, the President said that the government of Japan would send technical experts to assess the problem of the “missing link” roads that connect various regions of the city to avoid the hefty costs incurred through persistent traffic jams in the city.
The President said: “We will therefore be starting the process of roads construction to link the various parts of the city, without necessarily driving through the city centre.”
President Kibaki also disclosed that future development programmes undertaken in collaboration with the government of Japan would lay emphasis on rural development particularly irrigation and water supply.
“Water provision is especially important to us because a large section of our population is not adequately supplied with water while irrigation is a critical component in our efforts to be self-sufficient in food,” noted the Head of State.
He said that his government was exploring ways of increasing rice production in various existing irrigation schemes while at the same time investing in new rice production schemes.
During the visit the President also lobbied for increased Japanese tourists to the country and expressed confidence that the number of Japanese tourists could be doubled in the next two years.
The President also urged the Japanese Government to consider expanding the duty free and quota free market access of products originating from least developed countries to enable countries such as Kenya to benefit.