, SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, HON. MWAI KIBAKI, C.G.H; M.P, PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING CELEBRATIONS TO USHER IN THE NEW YEAR, STATE HOUSE, MOMBASA, 31STDECEMBER 2009
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I am glad to join you all as we usher in a New Year, TWENTY TEN. We thank the Almighty God for giving us the opportunity to witness the beginning of a New Year.
It is my prayer that TWENTY TEN will be a year of great promise, happiness and prosperity for all Kenyans.
As we are aware, the year just ended was one of the most challenging in recent history. During the year, we faced an economic slowdown, high fuel and food prices as well as a prolonged drought which severely threatened the livelihood of millions of our people.
We thank God for enabling us to deal with the various issues that we faced. Indeed, we have fared much better than was expected and emerged an even stronger nation and people.
As we enter the New Year, we must continue the path we have embarked on, in getting long term interventions that will guarantee food security and reduce reliance on rain fed agriculture.
So far we have placed under irrigation an extra 40,000 hectares of land. We have also revived several irrigation projects around the country. All these are part of government plans to address the problem of climatic extremes of drought and flooding.
We must, therefore, do all in our powers to mitigate the effects of climate change. We now have a National Climate Change Response Strategy. The strategy details the measures to be taken to address the adverse effects of Climate Change on a longer-term basis.
I also urge all Kenyans to individually take responsibility over our environment, to engage more aggressively in water harvesting and to use available water resources prudently. Let us make the year TWENTY TEN the GREEN YEAR FOR KENYA.
In this regard, more emphasis will be placed on energy production via green pathways including geothermal and wind energy. We will also begin an ambitious plan of planting trees and get our forest cover to ten percent.
Creating opportunities for our youthful population is a priority in the New Year. We must therefore step up measures to rejuvenate the economy in order to generate much needed jobs and improve living standards especially among the most vulnerable members of our society.
In this regard, we will continue to pay particular attention to implementation of the Economic Stimulus Package. Under the stimulus package, we aim, to invest in long term solutions to the challenges of food security as well as the generation of employment opportunities.
To facilitate our efforts aimed at empowering the youth, I have now signed into law the National Youth Council Act. The Act provides for the establishment of a Youth Council. The Council will among other issues promote and coordinate youth empowering activities and mobilize resources to support and fund youth programs.
To further rejuvenate the economy, we will step up implementation of flagship projects outlined in VISION TWENTY THIRTY. Focus will be on the productive sectors that need revamped infrastructure to thrive.
In particular, I am confident that we are now ready to begin works on Kenya’s second transport corridor linking us to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia and a new port at Lamu.
On the social front, the year TWENTY TEN will be a significant year in our education sector and more so in our efforts to empower our youth.
This January the first group of pupils who have enjoyed the full benefits of free primary education will be joining Standard eight. I wish to commend all teachers, parents, pupils and people of goodwill who have ensured success of the free primary education.
I assure all Kenyans that I remain fully committed to the continuation of the program and its total success.
We will therefore be taking stern and decisive action against any individuals who will be found to have misappropriated funds meant for the benefit of our children.
Enhanced national security is a key pillar of development. I wish to appeal to all Kenyans to embrace community policing because security begins with you the individual.
On our part as government we have intensified border patrols to curb the influx of illegal arms and criminals. Our security officials will also continue with the mopping up of illegal arms around the country.
To further help in the fight against crime, I have now signed into law the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-money Laundering Act. The new law will provide for the offense of money laundering and introduce measures to provide for identification, tracing and freezing and seizure of proceeds of crime.
On the international arena, TWENTY TEN will be a great year for the East African Community. On 1st July, the East African COMMON MARKET PROTOCOL will come into effect. The onset of the common market implies that there will be free movement of labour, goods and services across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
I appeal to Kenyans to start thinking like East African citizens and to embrace the opportunities that the common market will bring. I direct the Ministry in charge of East African Affairs to begin an aggressive campaign to educate Kenyans on the benefits of the common market, before the protocol comes into effect.
In order to ensure that Kenya remains an attractive investment destination, I have also signed into law the Arbitration (Amendment) Act. The Act will facilitate the hearing of local, regional and international commercial arbitrations, that has often been slow and cumbersome.
In conclusion, Fellow Kenyans, our country is at the threshold of a new constitutional dispensation in the New Year. The Committee of Experts on the Constitution review has now received your views after publication of the draft constitution.
They must now carefully and prudently harmonise these views. Kenyans expect that the final product will be a unifying document that reflects the will of a majority of the people.
We wish to conclude the constitution review process that has over the years proved divisive. This is why it is critical that the final document that will be presented at a referendum must form the foundation for a stable, united, peaceful and prosperous Kenya.
As we embark on the final stages of the constitution review process, I also note that the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission will begin its public hearings this year. I appeal to Kenyans to give their views freely.
Let us give the commission an opportunity to give room for national healing and reconciliation that are key ingredients to stability and development.
With these remarks, I once again wish all Kenyans a happy and prosperous New Year.
THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL IN TWENTY TEN.