NAIROBI, Kenya August 13 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga believes that Kenya must do more than just help neighbouring countries stabilise but also to position itself as an ideal investment destination and trade partner.
The premier who spoke on Friday at the closing ceremony for the 16th Biennial Ambassadors Conference challenged the country’s envoys to be at the fore front in marketing Kenya’s image in their host countries as a hub for East and Central Africa and a first choice investment destination.
Mr Odinga said the new constitution has not only put the spotlight back on this key East African market, but also improved its standing, making it a more attractive country to invest in.
“We must consolidate our position as peace lovers and peacemakers as we seek to promote our trade, foreign direct investment and opportunities for Kenyans; it is a task to which I trust you (ambassadors) are equal and I promise you my personal support and that of the executive,” he said.
The PM urged the envoys to highlight the unprecedented massive infrastructural investments all over the country which among others, have seen the country build the first ever super -highway in the region.
The Premier also pointed out that elaborate plans on course include constructing a new railway, an oil pipeline, and a fibre -optic link to Juba, from the new port planned for Lamu.
”These projects will radically improve our infrastructure, trade, and employment opportunities-and the world is welcome to participate in this development revolution,” he said.
In the energy sector, he pointed out that the country was now focused on alternative sources and was currently involved in iron-ore mining in Taita Taveta, putting up limestone and coal plants in Kitui.
Further, Mr Odinga assured the envoys that their respective budgets which have suffered as a result of the weakening shilling would be discussed at cabinet level with the aim of reviewing them.
“I have take note of the fluctuation of the exchange rates and it is something that will be discussed as a substantive agenda in cabinet,” he added.
At the same time, the Premier pointed to the new constitutional dispensation as marking a solid step towards the establishment of stronger democratic rule.
He noted that despite the teething problems the country faces, Kenyans have ‘breathed’ easier since the new law was passed.
”We are determined to regain our place as the economic powerhouse of the region, and the nerve centre of African politics and diplomacy”, he said.
The Premier also called on the envoys to enable Kenyans in the Diaspora to participate fully in national affairs. The first challenge for the diplomats would be to ensure that they vote in the next general elections.
“The Kenyan in the Diaspora is an important contributor to our economy, a fact recognised by both the constitution and Vision 2030,” he said.
Mr Odinga reiterated the government’s position that local border rows like the Migingo Island dispute with Uganda and invasion by the Merille from Ethiopia can be resolved peacefully without resorting to armed conflict.