We’re focused on building a cohesive Kenyan society, President Kenyatta says

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has reaffirmed his commitment to building a cohesive and progressive Kenyan society through participatory processes such as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

“We have initiated the Building Bridges Initiative, culminating in the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2020. This Bill seeks to comprehensively address our perennial challenges, particularly those arising from political transitions, negative ethnicity, lack of inclusion, inequitable development, and our fight against corruption…promoting a cohesive Kenyan Society is a cardinal focus of my administration,” the President said.

The President spoke Thursday evening at State House, Nairobi when he presented Kenya’s second country review report to the 30th summit of the African Peer Review Forum (APRF) of Heads of State and Government held virtually

At the meeting chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, in his capacity as the current chairperson of APRF, President Kenyatta affirmed Kenya’s commitment to the APRM process saying it promotes accountability.

“The APRM governance principles require us to be accountable to ourselves, to each other as member states, and to our respective citizens. It is for these reasons that I rise to highlight the progress Kenya has made in implementing commitments made during the peer review session of January 2017,” the President said, adding that Kenya was the first country to sign up for the second country review.

The Head of State presented Kenya’s scorecard on APRM’s four thematic areas of democracy and politics, corporate governance, socio-economic progress, and economic and management segments.

Alongside BBI, President Kenyatta underscored the renewed fight against corruption through the multi-agency approach and the work being done by both the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights as advancements in the country’s democracy and political governance.

On national security, the President said Kenya had restructured its national government coordination framework, creating more administrative units, and strengthening police reforms, including reorganizing the National Police Service and establishing a National Crime Research Centre.

“To institutionalize good governance and capacity building for county governments, the Kenya Devolution Support Programme was established. This inter-governmental forum seeks to foster transparency, accountability and enhance human resource management,” the President told his African counterparts.

The President also spoke about the increased participation of women, marginalized and vulnerable groups in governance, saying his administration continues to “implement and publicize affirmative action programmes empowering youth, women and people with disability”.

On corporate governance, the President said Kenya had enacted standards for businesses under the County Governments Act and strengthened the financial sector to ensure investors are supported with affordable credit.

“To enhance the ease of doing business, my administration introduced a new Companies Act, including new insolvency and business registration services laws. In addition, the Huduma Kenya Secretariat rolled out credit reference bureau services in selected centres,” he said.

Reporting on the socio-economic development pillar, the President said his administration recognizes the centrality of the health sector in economic development and the achievement of fundamental human rights.

“We invested USD 40 million in four (4) pilot counties; focused on community and primary healthcare services, strengthened health systems including basic and specialized medical services.

“Additionally, advisory panels were constituted, providing an expert opinion that informed plans for rolling-out the UHC programme. We strengthened the supply of medical and health commodities and utilization of the health services,” the President said.

The Head of State also spoke about Kenya’s economic governance and management framework saying the country’s macro-economic performance remained broadly vibrant during the reporting period.

“Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by 5.4 per cent in 2019, compared to 6.3 per cent in 2018 and 4.9 per cent in 2017. Growth in 2020 fell to 0.6 per cent, reflecting the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, gains between 2017 and 2019, and the projected economic rebound in 2021, testify to progress made towards good economic governance and management,” he said.

To support SME’s, President Kenyatta said Kenya established industrial incubation centres, trained SMEs, linked them with markets and provided start-up grants to the youth.

On employment creation, the Head of State said Kenya focused on promoting labour absorbing sectors such as agriculture and the service industry.

“Our labour productivity grew, an outcome attributed to increased investment in capital, technological progress, and human capital development,” President Kenyatta said.

Once again, President Kenyatta reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to the APRM system and welcome the new bi-annual reporting mechanism.

“Kenya is in the middle of the National Governance Reporting process; having been selected to pilot this crucial initiative, that hopefully will replace annual progress reporting. Based on our 17-year interaction with the APRM process, the practicality of annual progress reporting has been daunting.  We, therefore, welcome the proposed bi-annual National Governance Reporting,” the President said.

President Kenyatta welcomed APRM’s assessment of Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda programmes and suggested an expanded mandate to cover other critical areas.

“I confirm my Administration’s readiness to host the APRM Targeted Review Mission that will assess the governance of our Big 4 Agenda. We propose that it should also cover cross-cutting governance issues that are critical, and which can provide useful lessons for the entire APRM fraternity,” the President said.

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