, MSAMBWENI, Kenya, Aug 1 – Kenya’s foreign policy must be realigned to capture the ideals, aspirations and objectives of the new Constitution, President Mwai Kibaki has said.
President Kibaki emphasised that with the new Constitution now in place, the country’s foreign policy framework must be designed to be in tandem with the emerging realities.
“Under the new Constitution, for example, functions such as international trade have been placed side by side with the foreign policy function. This means you will now have to give more prominence to foreign trade promotion,” President Kibaki said.
The President made the remarks when he officially opened the 16th Biennial Conference of Ambassadors and High Commissioners at the Leisure Lodge Resort in Msambweni District.
The Head of State told the envoys to bear in mind that one of the key pillars of foreign policy is economic diplomacy and urged them to give particular attention to this pillar.
He pointed out that it is through promoting the country’s economic interests in the international arena that Kenya shall achieve her economic goals as outlined in Vision 2030.
In order to advance Kenya’s economic relations, President Kibaki stressed the importance of strong public-private partnerships in tackling the current challenges facing the country.
Noting that public-private partnerships are viewed as the appropriate model for strengthening the collaboration between the Government and its citizens for their common benefit, President Kibaki said the envoys play an important role in their respective countries of accreditation.
“As our envoys, you have an important part to play in your countries of accreditation, in terms of seeking business, trade and investment opportunities, as well as sourcing new markets for our products and expanding existing ones,” President Kibaki said.
“The private sector, on the other hand, provides the expertise for the day to day trade, investment and other commercial linkages with their counterparts abroad,” he added.
In this regard, the President pointed out that the conference provided an ideal opportunity for exchanging ideas pertaining to Kenya’s national interests in the global arena and hailed the event’s theme how to ‘Project Kenya’s Foreign Policy under the new Constitutional Dispensation’.
He expressed hope that deliberations during the conference would lead to the development of a proactive foreign policy that will promote Kenya’s national interests and put the country in its rightful place as a leader amongst the community of nations.”
On infrastructure development, President Kibaki said the construction of the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor, which is expected to open up large sections of the country which previously received little attention, is one of the most important investment under Vision 2030.
“I urge you to focus some energies on promoting investment in this project in your respective areas of accreditation, as it is expected to play a major role in catalyzing Kenya’s progress towards the achievement of the economic and social goals envisaged in Vision 2030,”
President Kibaki said.
During the occasion the Head of State called on the diplomats to actively engage other participants at the conference drawn from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers on how to intensify interaction with the private sector.
He affirmed that such engagements would promote a collaborative and effective partnership that would increase economic relations between Kenya and her bilateral partners to the benefit of Kenyans.
With regard to the dual citizenship, the Head of State told the envoys to enlighten Kenyans on this important development and to urge all citizens who gave up their citizenship in order to secure their livelihoods, to carry on contributing to building their country through increased investments and financial remittances.
“Another important aspect of your work is dealing with Kenyans in the Diaspora, many of whom gave up their Kenyan citizenship due to the need to secure their livelihoods in their countries of residence. With dual citizenship now approved under the new Constitution, Kenyans in the diaspora can safeguard their foreign citizenship status and still remain Kenyans,” the Head of State declared.
With regard to regional peace and security, President Kibaki observed that Kenya has played a significant role in mediating the peace processes in both the former Sudan and Somalia but asked the participants in the forum to discuss ways of entrenching and enhancing the peace dividend in the Horn of Africa region.
In this connection, President Kibaki said Kenya will continue to play a key role in the East African Community affairs, adding that the country’s political and economic destiny is strongly tied to the Community which is set to expand with the inclusion of South Sudan and Ethiopia.
The President observed, “In spite of the progress made with regard to Sudan, major challenges still remain in the search for durable peace and stability in Somalia.”
“In the wider Eastern and Central African region, Kenya has taken part in the discussions focusing on sharing of the resources of the River Nile together with other riparian states. The conflict areas and possible solutions to them are critical issues that you should deliberate in light of the vital importance of water as a resource, given our classification as a water-deficit nation,” the Head of State added.
He challenged the participants to spend crucial time exchanging ideas on the opportunities and challenges facing the country with regard to regional integration and to find ways of deepening the process.
Speaking during the occasion acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the ministry will continue to strengthen its capacity and capabilities both at the Headquarters and in its missions abroad to effectively respond to the changing world through tailored programmes at the Foreign Service Institute.
“The large number of Kenyans who now live overseas and the equally large number of our nationals who travel overseas everyday has made the work of our missions even more demanding,” Prof. Saitoti said.
Noting that Kenya’s missions abroad are the main link to the world, Prof.
Saitoti underscored the need for the envoys to uniformly project the country and its leadership as united behind a common vision and programme to deliver a better life for all Kenyans.
Other speakers included Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka and Acting Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Amb. Patrick Wamoto.
During the occasion, President Kibaki received a donation of Kshs 1.2 million from the envoys and senior Foreign Affairs Ministry officials including the acting Foreign Affairs Minister towards the Government’s efforts to assist those affected by drought and famine.
Also present during function were Ministers Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Beth Mugo, and Parliamentary Defence and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Adan Keynan.