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The Third Kenya Trade Week

Addressing the Third Kenya Trade Week at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), Nairobi, Dr Ruto noted that Kenya must “act early and decisively to claim a strong position” in the African Free Trade Area, a bloc of 1.3 billion people and $ 3.4 trillion.

“To achieve this, it is important to develop a national strategy to guide our approach and it is my hope that the Ministry of Trade is already engaged on this task,” said the Deputy President.

He told the Summit trade is a bedrock to the economic aspirations of the country, and as such, “it is vital that we explore all avenues to expand the reach and value of Kenyan products both within and without our borders.”

the Third Kenya Trade Week DP Ruto and Raila Odinga

He further noted that it was through trade that Kenya, and Africa at large, would create jobs that is much needed for its growing population.

According to the Kenya Bureau of Statistics, the country’s exports grew from Sh537 billion in 2014 to Sh613 billion in 2018, indicating a 14 per cent rise. During the same period, imports went up from Sh1.62 trillion in 2014 to Sh1.76 trillion in 2018, representing an 8.6 per cent.

The export volumes, Dr Ruto said, is far from its potential.

He observed that Kenya needs to up its export numbers so as to have a balanced trade.

In 2014, for instance, Kenya exported Sh537 billions’ worth of goods and services. In the same period, it brought in goods and services worth Sh1.62 trillion indicating a negative trade balance of Sh1.08 trillion.

Likewise, it exported goods and services worth Sh613 billion in 2018 but bought goods and services from foreign countries worth Sh1.76 trillion, showing a negative balance of trade of Sh1.12 trillion.

“From the foregoing, it is clear Kenya's export numbers lag behind our true potential in the regional and global economic market and our expanding trade deficit reflects this state of affairs,” Dr Ruto argued.

So as to better its exports, the Summit heard that in partnership with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and Trade Mark East Africa, Kenya had developed the Intergrated National Export Development and Promotion Strategy.

From this grand plan, the Deputy President said, export share as a percentage of the gross domestic product would grow from eight per cent to 22 per cent.

To drive this growth, the strategy has identified eight key sectors: manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, trade in services, emerging sectors such as oil and gas, handicrafts and cross-cutting issues which are grouped as a sector.

Dr Ruto said the implementation of the strategy needs to be carried out with urgency and diligence.

Leaders to work together with Development Partners

Deputy President William Ruto has asked leaders to work together with development partners to ensure that there was no duplication of funding of projects in their areas of jurisdictions.

He expressed concern that there had been cases where some projects in the country had been accounted for more than once.

Speaking during the North and Northern Eastern Development Initiative (NEDI) leadership consultative forum at his Karen office, Nairobi, Dr Ruto said leaders must guard against replication of projects in their respective areas.

DP CHAIRS NEDI FORUM

“We do not want a situation where one programme is being accounted for more than once. We must guard against it because it will result in the abuse of resources,” said Dr Ruto.

The Deputy President urged leaders to always take the lead in helping people prioritise projects that have direct impact on their lives besides participating in their implementation.

“The national and county governments should work together with MPs and development partners in the initiation of projects as well as their monitoring to avert any unnecessary photocopying of such programmes,” he said.

He said accountability remained key to successful implementation of development projects that would transform the lives of Kenyans.

Present were National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Governors Ali Roba (Mandera), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), Dhadho Godhana (Tana River), Mohammed Kuti (Isiolo), World Bank Programme leader for sustainable development Helene Carlsson Rex and several MPs.

At the same time, the Deputy President said there should be efficient flow of information on the implementation of development projects.

He asked Governors and MPs from the NEDI regions to always attend meetings, saying such forums help in oversight and implementation of projects.

Mr Duale said county and national Government's must work together in ensuring that there was no duplication of funding of projects in any part of the country.

“There is serious duplication of funding of projects, especially when it comes to the construction of water pans in some parts of the country. It’s important to give an identification mark to county, national and donor funded projects to differentiate them,” said Mr Duale.

He added: “Our interest is to make sure every coin whether from national, county or donor is used in the right manner and for the intended project.”

Mr Roba said projects should always be evaluated before their implementation, saying such efforts ensured there was no duplication of development programmes.

“It’s nearly impossible for county governments to duplicate projects. Development projects are always highly monitored. There is always value for money. We may have differences among leaders but this cannot amount to duplication of programmes,” said Governor Roba.

On his part, Governor Lonyangapuo called for proper training of officers implementing development projects for accountability purposes.

The Government in collaboration with the World Bank is working to increase investments in transformative and integrated infrastructure and sustainable livelihoods in the NEDI region.

Both the national and county governments will spearhead NEDI. Its success will depend largely on strong collaboration between the stakeholders: the two levels of government, the private sector, civil society organisations and development partners.

Ms Rex urged the Government to eliminate barriers that have made it difficult for the World Bank to initiate prioritized development projects in any part of the country within the stipulated time.
 
“Obstacles which have made it hard for us to initiate projects within the stipulated timeframe should be addressed,” said Ms Rex.

Bilateral discussions with the delegation from Cuba

Deputy President William Ruto hosted a delegation from Cuba led by Vice President of the Councils of State Ines María Chapman Waugh for bilateral talks.
 
The leaders of the two countries said they were keen on strengthening relations and cooperation for the benefit of the two countries by improving the social welfare of their citizens.
 
Speaking during a joint press briefing at the Deputy President’s residence, Karen, Dr Ruto said Kenya would continue to cooperate with Cuba in the expansion of the health sector, one of the pillars of the Big Four agenda.
 
“We have had important bilateral discussions with the delegation from Cuba on important issues in the fields of health, agriculture, fisheries, trade, human resource management and water among other areas,” said Dr Ruto.
 
He said Kenya and Cuba would work together in the expansion of training of doctors, nurses, and community health workers on family health as part of the efforts to transform the sector.

During talks with Ines Maria Chapman The Vice President of the Cuban Council of State and of Ministers at Karen office Nairobi County“You are all aware that 100 Cuban doctors are helping our people in various parts of the country while our 50 doctors are doing postgraduate courses in Cuba,” said Dr Ruto.
 
He said the Cuban doctors have so far attended to more than 300,000 people since they arrived in the country almost a year ago, adding that Kenya was drawing lessons from the Caribbean nation in preventive and curative health.
 
Ms Maria was accompanied by among others Amb Armando Vergara Bueno, Deputy Director of the General Division for Bilateral Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cuban Amb to Kenya Ernesto Gomez Diaz among others.
 
Dr Ruto said the two countries have agreed to expedite the malaria vector control as part of the efforts to contain the disease in the country.
 
“The malaria control programme will soon be rolled out once the Attorney General’s office and the Treasury finalize on some few issues,” said Dr Ruto.
 
He added that Cuba has excelled in agriculture, saying Kenya will borrow valuable lessons that would ensure the country is food secure.
 
“Cuba is also working with Kenya Medical Research Institute with a move to coming up with vaccines for Hepatitis B, HIV/Aids, diabetic foods among others to contain the spread of these diseases,” said Dr Ruto.
 
Ms Waugh, on her part, praised the cordial relations between the two countries, saying it would go a long way in the improvement of lives of people in the two nations.
 
“We will continue working together in efforts to come up with anti-malaria vaccines among other issues that we have discussed,” said Ms Waugh.
 
She said Cuba was impressed with the manner in which M-pesa was transforming the lives of Kenyans, saying they would explore ways of replicating the same economic venture in her country.
 
“The way in which mobile money transfer, M-Pesa is working and transforming peoples lives is encouraging. We will explore ways of replicating the same in our country,” said Ms Waugh.
 
Present were Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga, chairperson, Parliamentary Committee on Health Sabina Chege among others.

Initiative to end FGM launched

Kenya in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched an initiative that aims to bring to an end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country.

The program dubbed ‘End FGM Beads Initiative’ brings together the UNFPA, the Anti-FGM Board, Ushanga Kenya and the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife in the fight against retrogressive activities that undermine the development of girls and women.

Deputy President William Ruto witnessed the signing ceremony between UNFPA, Anti-FGM Board and Ushanga Kenya at his Karen office, Nairobi.

Addressing the press after the signing ceremony, Dr Ruto said FGM and child marriages have become major obstacles in the development and empowerment of girls and women in the country.

During the signing ceremony of the End FGM Beads Initiative at Karen office Nairobi County

“The impact of FGM and child marriage adversely affects the health, education and overall development of women and girls. Every effort is being made to ensure gender equality. We want to assemble every arsenal to fight retrogressive activities in this country,” said Dr Ruto.

He reiterated the Government’s commitment in fighting FGM, which affects 200 million girls and women around the globe and 23 percent of the Kenya’s populations.

"It's our responsibility as Government to do what it takes to end FGM activities for the sake of our girls and women," said Dr Ruto.

He thanked UNFPA for being a solid and pragmatic partner in the fight against retrogressive activities that undermine efforts to attain gender equality in the country.

“This is why we’ve come together with UNFPA to up the game in the fight against this retrogressive practice,” said the Deputy President.

UNFPA representative Ademola Olajide praised Kenya’s efforts and commitment in the fight against the outdated cultural practice, which is a violation of human rights.

He said it is impressive that in the last two decades, Kenya has made tremendous strides in the empowerment of girls through legislative and policy formulation as well as programmatic interventions that address the pressing needs of girls.

Mr Olajide noted that the enactment of laws such as the Marriage Act 2013 and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011, are some of the measures that have been put in place by the Government to safeguard the rights of girls.

“Today marks a milestone as we have come up with efforts to join hands with Kenya in finding sustainable development goals that can improve girls and women economic status thus eliminate FGM in this country,” said Mr Olajide.

 

He went on: “It is against this backdrop, UNFPA Kenya, Anti-FGM Board and Ushanga Kenya will build on the commercialization of the culturally symbolic beads, to increase awareness and financially empower local communities to abandon FGM and child marriage while sustainably supporting women and adolescent girls to realize their potential through this End FGM Beads Initiative.”

Gender Affairs Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe said Ushanga Initiative seeks to strengthen business and production capacity among women and improve their competitiveness for beads in local, regional and international markets for sustainable livelihoods.

Ushanga Kenya chairperson Hellen Nkaisery said creating a safe environment where women and girls can thrive and grow to be productive members of the society is critical to the transformation of entrenched social norms.

She said gender biases and inequalities could be tackled by working with all members of the community, reflecting a commitment to empowering women and girls.

“Seven counties; Baringo, Marsabit, Narok, Kajiado, Samburu, Turkana and West Pokot, which have embraced the Ushanga Initiative will enlist women through cooperatives to do marketing of beads as well as educate the people on the need to abandon FGM activities in their local communities,” said Ms Nkaisery.

Anti-FGM chairperson Agnes Pareyio said investing in women and girls means breaking the cycle of violence and poverty and contributing to the development of a community and nation.

She said their initiative with UNFPA would also involve counties that have not embraced the Beads Initiative but still practice FGM activities.

Principal Secretaries Josephta Mukobe (Culture) and Ali Noor (Cooperatives) were also present.

The fight against corruption

Deputy President William Ruto has urged professionals to rise up and take the lead in the fight against corruption in the country.

Dr Ruto said it is time professionals promoted ethics and integrity in the public service as they drive their agenda and policies.

He said professionals should be at the forefront in advocating for ethical practices in the society.

Speaking when he officially opened the First Inter-Professionals Summit held in Mombasa, the Deputy President said professionals should carry out their duties besides taking decisions efficiently if the country is to be free from graft.

During the official opening of the First Inter professional summit in Shanzu Mombasa County

“Corruption is to blame on professionals who fail to execute their work efficiently. As professionals, we should provide professional pieces of advice and decisions as they drive agenda and policies,” said Dr Ruto.

“It is true to state that by and large, our most vexing problems as a nation have a strong professional component. And they relate to our professionals failing to rise to their highest standard and full potential,” added the Deputy President.

He told the Summit whose theme was “The Future of Professionals” that the country’s human resource capital is highly regarded worldwide and, therefore, should be the biggest contributor to driving public service, national development and national discourse.

“It is inevitable, therefore, that professionals are expected to be the biggest drivers in all matters pertaining to the common good, public welfare and national service,” said Dr Ruto.

Present were professionals drawn from the Law Society of Kenya, Institute of Certified Secretaries, Institute of Human Resource Management, Kenya Institute of Supplies Management and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), among others.

MPs Ali Mbogo (Kisauni), Mathias Robi (Kuria West), Stanley Muthama (Lamu West), Sheriff Athman (Lamu East and Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango) accompanied the Deputy President.

The Deputy President noted that a large portion of blame for shortcomings being experienced in the country might be seen as failures attributable to professionals and professional organisations.

“When we talk about corruption, we may move from broad generalities and begin to examine the role of specific professionals in the mechanics of every corrupt incident,” said Dr Ruto.

He said the judicial corruption involves wayward lawyers on the bar and on the bench, adding that a bad decision procured for a valuable reward requires lawyers willing to negotiate terms and coordinate modalities by which the justice will be perverted.

“Corruption involving misappropriation, embezzlement of public funds entails an understanding among and between accountants, auditors, economists and such like professionals to see to it that budgets are diverted and misused,” said Dr Ruto.

Similarly, the Deputy President said, bad roads are a direct consequence of corrupt dealings involving engineers who may compromise designs, or be lax in supervising works, or permit shortcuts to be taken, or approve substandard work as completed and due for payment.

“We cannot run away from the fact that professionals face many challenges. Lecturers who award grades on the basis of inappropriate relations, engineers who approve substandard and dangerous structures, putting many innocent lives at risk from possible collapse, as well as costly, substandard works,” he said.

He singled out lawyers who formulate instruments and other arrangements, including legal opinions that become conduits in the theft of public resources and auditors who sign off cooked books that end up legitimizing misappropriation of public and private resources as some of the engagements that lead to corruption.

“Accountants who manipulate numbers, occasioning loss of value in the public and private sectors, surveyors and planners who facilitate expropriation of public land in shoddy and corrupt schemes, human resource managers who skew interviews and promotions and sacrifice merit at the shrine of tribalism, and qualification on the altar of nepotism are to blame for corruption,” said Dr Ruto.

He added: “Judges who auction justice to the highest bidder, consigning innocent people to untold suffering and media practitioners who file fake stories influenced by ‘brown envelopes ‘are part of the mess in this country.”

Harriet Chiggai, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Vice Chairperson said the professionals’ body should put in place policies that would sustain the organization.

“As professionals we should take the lead in helping the government address challenges such as runaway corruption among other problems facing us as a nation,” said Ms Chiggai.

ICPAK CEO Patrick Ngumi and his LSK counterpart Mercy Wambua called for closer working relations between the government and the professional body in addressing challenges facing the country.

They called for ways of eliminating quacks in various fields, saying they were tarnishing the image of various professions.

Meanwhile, the Deputy President said there have been attempts to profile the political war against some personalities including him.

He said this has affected many individuals and government programmes.

“There has also been an attempt to hijack the war on corruption and turn it into a war against specific individuals. In the attempt to wage this convoluted version of the war on corruption, many government programmes and projects, as well as many innocent public servants have become casualties,” said Dr Ruto.

He said he’s surprised that there are people who have a problem with his assertion that the war on corruption must be fact-led and evidence–based in accordance with the law.

He wondered why some people have a problem with the truth, facts, evidence and with the law in the fight against corruption, saying the war on corruption is an integrity war.

“A war on corruption that lacks integrity ceases to be a war on corruption and becomes corruption itself. Integrity war that lack integrity is impunity. An integrity war waged selectively, using convenient half-truths, with political outcomes in mind, is impunity,” said Dr Ruto.