On April 9, 2013, amid cheers and applause from tens of thousands of his supporters, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was sworn into office as Kenya’s fourth President. In his inaugural address, President Kenyatta promised to work towards permanent peace, “through which democracy is gloriﬁed rather than undermined.”
He also promised to strengthen the economy through the promotion of public-private partnerships and through the creation of a friendly and enabling environment for business.
President Kenyatta’s promise of the Jubilee government ensuring that maternity fees are abolished and that all citizens of Kenya are able to access government dispensaries and health centers free of charge has been effected.
The Kshs6 billion previously allocated for the election run- off towards has been channeled to the Uwezo Fund targeting youth and women.
Terror attacks and Somalia
With Kenyan troops already in Somalia taming the al Shabaab militants, President Kenyatta faces the uphill task of maintaining morale in the Operation Linda Nchi initiative despite constant threats from al Shabaab.
In September, the militants attacked a mall in Nairobi leaving at least 67 people dead in retaliation to Kenya’s incursion into Somalia.
President Kenyatta warned the militants that Kenyan troops will not be intimidated out of Somalia. At the end of October, the Kenyan military said its warplanes bombed targets held by al Qaeda-linked Islamists in retaliation for the Nairobi mall attack. The Kenya Defence Forces said they destroyed a training camp used by the al Shabaab. The attack was part of a broader mission by the AMISOM, the UN-backed African peacekeeping mission in Somalia, targeting where Al Shabaab’s training camps.
President Kenyatta has promised to intensify the ﬁght against terrorism and vowed that Kenya will not relent on its war against international terror. The country has committed to Work closely with the UN and other partners in the ﬁght against international terror groups to ensure sustainable peace in the East African region.
The laptop promise and ICT in schools
One of the much- awaited promises by the Jubilee government is the provision of laptops to all class one children in 2014. The idea is to allow children to use ICT at an early age and enable them to interact across the world. Kenya has also prioritized the use of ICT in its development agenda because of its potential to trigger an industrial revolution necessary for the country’s transformation.
The government, in order to align its education system with Vision 2030, has started the development of digital content at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD). Also, an ICT curriculum has been introduced at teacher training level. Also in place is the proposed 10—Year Master Plan for ICT in Education which will ensure that ICT development will be holistic and integrated with all levels of education.
Standard gauge railway
Another of President Kenyatta’s planned projects is the construction of a standard gauge railway line, which is envisaged to reach Kigali and Juba in South Sudan by 2018. The railway line will reduce the cost of transportation and doing business in the region.
Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda have agreed to approach China to fund and build the $13.4 billion dual truck, 2,937 kilometers standard gauge railway connecting the four countries. It is projected that the construction of the standard gauge railway line is going to spur separate lines.
One of the challenges facing the Kenyatta government is to build the1,300km line, which is likely to cost close to Kshs445 billion. On his recent visit to China, President Kenyatta signed agreements worth Kshs425 billion ($4.8 billion) with China. The new line would provide better access to markets for goods from Kenya as well as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. All the countries have committed to establish a Railway Development Fund and earmark sufficient budgetary allocation to the development of the SGR. The SGR will allow freight trains to go up to speeds of 120kph while passenger trains will attain l80kph.
Kenya is also planning to construct a 1,400km Lamu-Lokichoggio railway line and the Nairobi-Moyale 700km rail, which will connect Kenya to Juba in South Sudan as part of the Lamu Porte South Sudane Ethiopia transport corridor.
Kenya had been searching for oil and gas for nearly 60 years. The search became successful in the 2012, when the country made very encouraging discoveries. First was the oil discovery in Ngamia 1 exploration well in Block 10BB Tertiary Rift Basin and second, natural gas discovery in Mbawa 1 exploration well in offshore Block L8, Lamu Basin.
The two discoveries have heightened interest and activities in the exploration of oil and natural gas in the 46 blocks that are located in the four sedimentary basins namely Lamu, Mandera, Anza and Tertiary Rift. Ever since this discovery, more oil wells have been discovered in the region putting Kenya on the road to become an oil and gas exporter. In June 2013, Tullow Oil announced that they had made a new oil discovery in South Lokichar basin in Turkana, pushing up prospects of the beginning of commercial production of the resource.
These discoveries underline Kenya’s potential to become a major oil producing nation in the next five years.
With Kenya facing an energy crisis, the Jubilee government had promised to reduce the energy shortfall. At the moment only one-fifth of the population has access to regular supply of electricity. Also, Kenya cannot meet its energy needs for both industrial and domestic. Although there have been major extensions to Kenya’s power grid, it is still too expensive for most Kenyans to connect to even when power lines run outside their homes.
President Kenyatta has promised to ensure that every Kenyan has access to electricity by 2020 and to expand electricity production capacity to 10GW over the next decade and then to 25GW by 2030, thereby transforming Kenya into a net exporter of energy. The other measures include encouraging new private energy generators in the Kenyan market and increase private investment in existing state—owned companies such as Ken—Gen, Kenya Power and the Kenya Pipeline Company.
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But of utmost importance is the commercializing of oil discoveries in northern Kenya and the construction of an oil pipeline from South Sudan and a new oil reﬁnery at the coast. He has also promised to create an Oil and Gas Revenue Fund and give five per cent of public revenues back to the local communities where resources are located and five per cent to pay for the roll out of local renewable energy schemes.
Agriculture and food security
President Kenyatta’s government is banking on agriculture to create three million jobs in the next three years and to accelerate economic growth to seven per cent annually.
Some of the projects on the line include the 1.2 million acre Galana Irrigation Scheme, which is the ﬂagship project for improving food security and increasing production of maize and sugar.
The government is also targeting a seven per cent GDP growth in the next few years, and double digit growth by 2018.
Part of the Jubilee government’s promise is to turn agriculture into a commercial enterprise that provides Kenyans with employment, not mere subsistence. Some of the promises include the establishment of a vibrant national irrigation scheme to open up more arable land. The other is to make it easy for Kenyans to lease agricultural land and provide extension services.
To enhance food security the government plans to increase efficiency in agricultural production through mechanization and employment of modern technology. It hopes that within five years, a million acres of land will be under modern irrigation and further expand agricultural production by employing modern technology on currently cultivated land and on the 2.5 million acres presently not in use.
The government has promised to support Kenya’s manufacturing industry and accelerate growth in the medium term. Part of these measures include the implementation of deliberate policies, in order to revamp the manufacturing sector which is the largest employer and foreign exchange earner after agriculture.
During the past six years the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the economy has stagnated at 10 per cent even as the services sector which employs relatively fewer people – continued on a steady growth path.
Aside from creating more jobs and earning foreign exchange, the manufacturing sector is critical to reversing Kenya’s negative trade balance The likely beneficiaries of the new policy stance include local manufacturers of furniture, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and motor vehicle assemblers.
Corruption and good governance
President Kenyatta believes that corruption in Kenya, especially in the public sector, has been tolerated for too long.
He has promised to give the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) the power to prosecute corruption cases as happens in other African countries and set up local anti-corruption boards at county level with the power to refer cases to the EACC or to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The president also wants to ban anyone convicted on corruption charges from working in government, or in any public sector job.
Already, the President has launched a Website where Kenyans can report directly to him cases of corruption.
Devolution and implementation of the Constitution
The implementation of the new Constitution has been one of the hallmarks of the Kenyatta presidency. There is the new Senate, county governments and national commissions. President Kenyatta started with the reduction of the number of ministries and by appointing professionals as Cabinet Secretaries. He has also managed to draw the line between national and county executive functions, and devolved the functions constitutionally assigned to county governments without frictions. He has been holding meetings with Governors and Senators to streamline the process of implementing devolution. He has also been calling for partnership between all stakeholders in overcoming teething problems.
President Kenyatta has told Senators to enlighten members of the public on the challenges being encountered and the efforts that are being made towards the successful implementation of devolution.
International Criminal Court and Diplomacy
President Kenyatta won Kenya’s election despite threats by Western nations that Kenya would face “consequences” if they elected him and his deputy, W1lliam Ruto, while facing criminal charges against humanity at the International Criminal Court.
Western nations were troubled on how to deal with a leader indicted by the ICC while at the same time respecting Kenyans’ choice. Although the US and European ambassadors did join around a dozen African leaders and government officials from around the world for the inauguration in Nairobi, signifying Kenya’s strategic and economic importance, the issue of ICC and the diplomatic puzzle continues to give President Kenyatta his biggest headache.
President Kenyatta has received the backing of the African Union, which wants the ICC cases deferred and has put the Security Council on the spot.
The recent terror attack by the Al-Qaeda-backed Somali group Al-Shabaab in Nairobi has complicated the issue and introduced a new dynamic both in the ICC debate and diplomacy.