President Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking reelection for his second term on Jubilee party ticket. His campaign narrative is banked on Jubilee’s achieve- ments in the past four years. The success of the mega projects is concomitant to Uhuru’s over 80 foreign trips during his first term. The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) was the biggest landmark for the Jubilee administration. It was the first railway project in post- independence Kenya.
Although the opposition had initially dismissed the project as a white elephant, the project was completed one year before the set deadline. Uhuru’s state visits to China secured the loan that largely financed the SGR. The construction of the first phase of the SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi cost Ksh 327 billion shillings. On May 31st, he launched the 480 km SGR in Mombasa, which comprises of 33 stations, 56 locomotives and 40 passenger coaches.
So far, the train has carried more than 150,000 passengers in two months and is expected to increase Kenya’s GDP by 1.5 percent China is the second biggest economy in the world and the biggest trading country with largest foreign reserve. It is also Africa’s largest trading partner with trade amounting to US $221.88 billion in 2014. President Kenyatta was one of the two African leaders that were invited in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held on May 14th and 15th in China.
During the meeting, China offered a $3.59 billion loan for the extension of the SGR in the Naivasha – Kisumu – Malaba route. Uhuru secured $161 million dollars loan for the construction of the Western By-Pass that is aimed to decongest Nairobi City. Kenya government also signed a $2 billion agreement with China Power Global and Amu Power for the operation of Lamu coal project.
High Level Meetings In the past four years, Nairobi has hosted high level meetings that have put the country on the map. On June 23rd to 27th, the first United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was held in Nairobi. UNEA is the highest- level platform for decision making on environment and was held for the first time in a developing country. The summit brought together UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, President of the UN General Assembly, ministers of environment and foreign affairs from UN member states.
Over 1,200 delegated attended the meeting including former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and government ministers from UN member states, business and civil society organizations. Kenya also hosted Pope Francis in addition to other high level meetings including the 10th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in December 2015, and the 14th session of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which took place in Nairobi between July 17th and 22nd 2016 and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in August 2016.
Bilateral Relations with the USA Uhuru and Deputy President’s Ruto’s candidature in the March 2013 elections was riddled with controversy, since both candidates were facing charges at the International Criminal Court. Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State told media reporters that there
Kenya would face the consequences of electing ICC suspects. “We live in an interconnected world and people should be thoughtful about the impact that their choices have on their nation, on the region, on the economy, on the society and on the world in which they live. Choices have consequences,” he said.
But after Uhuru won, he launched
a diplomatic offensive in Western and African countries which later changed the world view on his leadership. USA President Barack Obama made his maiden visit to Kenya on July 24 to 26 2015. President Obama made history by been the first sitting USA president to visit Kenya. During the visit, Kenya and the USA
co-hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), held for the first time in Africa. Agreements worth Ksh 1.2 billion were signed by both countries.
The pacts outlined America’s commitment in supporting development of strategic infrastructure projects in Kenya and promoting USA’s private sector participation in the projects. USA
government committed to invest $9.5 billion (Ksh 950 billion) in the Lamu Port South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) and $7.55 billion (Ksh 755 billion) in the projected value of exports that will flow through the same corridor. The General Electric (GE), an American company committed to supply 20 passenger trains worth $72 million (Ksh 7.2 billion) to Kenya Railways. Wildlife conservation efforts in the country also received $20 million (Ksh 2 billion).
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), was renewed for another ten year term by President Obama in June 2015. The pact allows African countries to export over 8,000 products without paying taxes to the vast American market. Kenya is a beneficiary of the agreement with thousands employed in the textile and agricultural sectors. In 2015 Kenya emerged as Africa’s largest apparel exporter to USA.
The industry is worth Ksh 39 billion, and provides employment to thousands of Kenyans. Obama’s visit to Kenya emboldened President Kenyatta’s approval ratings, and also diminished opposition leader’s Raila Odinga quest to seek support from the West. Obama dismissed the opposition’s quest of America’s support in critiquing the government. When opposition leaders led by Raila, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula and Martha Karua met President Obama, they asked him to pressure Uhuru’s administration on governance issues.
But Obama dismissed the opposition for their double standards, “I remember when you were in government, you kept on saying, why are you trying to interfere with Kenya’s business you should mind your own business.” He observed that, “everybody wants the united States to be very involved when they are not in power and when they are in power they want the United States to mind their own business,” Obama said.
Foreign Direct Investments in the Last Four Years Kenya has steadily improved in its global ranking in the past four years. The numerous foreign trips made by President Kenyatta have boosted investors’ confidence in the country. Peugeot and Volkswagen car making companies have set up car assembly plants worth more than Ksh 3.7billion in Kenya. The firms will provide employment opportunities to thousands of Kenyans. In 2015, the World Bank determined that Kenya is a middle income economy after its GDP was rebased making the economy to increase by 25 per cent, from $42.6 billion to $53.3 billion.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report 2015 showed that Kenya has seen an increase of 95 per cent on foreign direct investment between 2013 and 2014. In 2013 the country attracted Ksh 49.9 billion and in 2014 it attracted Ksh 97.8 billion in foreign direct investments. In the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report 2016, Kenya improved 28 positions to position 108. This was an improvement from position 136 out of 189 in the year 2014. The improvement was credited to the setting up of Huduma Centres that have enhanced service delivery by government departments. Also, the duration of time taken for electricity connection in new businesses had drastically reduced and contributed to the favorable ratings.