My fellow Kenyans,
On the first day of June every year, we come together to commemorate Madaraka Day. A day set aside in our national calendar to reflect on and celebrate our realization of self-rule after a long struggle against Colonialism.
Some of those who struggled for our liberty are here with us today. We Salute You. All those who fought for our liberation gave something of themselves; some gave all, even their lives. We honour and thank them for their sacrifice, for the immense hope that fired them on, and for their refusal to ever give tyranny a permanent foothold in our country.
My Administration made the solemn decision to rotate the hosting of national celebration in order to strengthen our nationhood. So far Nakuru, Nyeri, Machakos, Meru and Kakamega have hosted our national celebrations. Today, is the opportunity for Narok County. I thank the great people of Narok for your warm and thunderous reception.
You will recall, once our Head of State was a Queen in a foreign land, and the head of government was a direct appointee of the Queen. They were both answerable to none of us, but today, I answer to your vote, and to the Constitution you chose freely.
Once, the right to vote was determined by the colour of one’s skin in colonial Kenya; today, your vote and your voice determines how this nation is governed. This was never realized on a silver platter, it took blood, sweat and courage from so many who sacrificed so much.
Our forefathers are watching us today. They are watching us to ascertain whether we are building upon or squandering the liberty and dream of a secure and prosperous nation.
They are watching us to know if we have done enough to hold our head high among the community of nations. Whether poverty, disease, ignorance and insecurity have been banished from our midst and that there is Plenty Within Our Borders.
They would want to know whether our children are being brought up with strong moral grounding, and that they are receiving an education that prepares them to keep building Kenya into one of the greatest nations on earth. What is our answer to them?
We have come far as a Nation since the Crown caved in to our clamour for self-determination. We have achieved a lot, but it has also been a tough journey.
Today, Kenya is a country of consequence. We anchor the fragile peace and security in our region. We are a generous country that works hard to build peace among our neighbours.
Our economy is the largest and most diverse in the region, reflecting the hard work, strength of character and innovative spirit of our people. Our emerging technology companies attract more investment than any other country in Africa, evidence that the world recognizes the skills and ingenuity of our youth.
Kenyans in the diaspora, our greatest export, continue to shatter barriers, joining ranks of corporate executives in world capitals.
Our athletes are among the greatest the world has ever seen. Our actors and filmmakers are taking the global stage by storm as the Digital Revolution continues to transform the way the world consumes entertainment. We are exhibiting greatness, thus reflecting our talent, ambition, and willingness to compete with the best.
We have hosted millions of people who travel many miles to come and visit our parks and make new friends, reflecting our careful tending of our environment. We have also made our name as the destination of choice for International Conferences and Business “Safari” Tourism.
We are taking better care of the liberty our forefathers handed to us. Indeed, we can all be immensely proud that we are a country of laws, whose Constitution has brought Government closer to the people through devolution.
Our government is accountable to the people; it listens to them; it is subjected to their will; and it is getting better every day at delivering services and making life better for all citizens.
We are making remarkable progress in building a diverse and vibrant economy. We are growing beyond traditional strongholds such as Agriculture, Tourism, Logistics, Construction and Manufacturing into Technology, Financial services, Horticulture and Floriculture.
We are embarking on building a vibrant maritime and Blue Economy that will elevate and transform our food security and create employment opportunities for our people while expanding our economy.
I can report that last year, our national cake expanded by 6.3%, one of the highest growth rates in the world, and, in consequence, over 800,000 new jobs were created, especially in the informal sector.
This is the outcome of the strong reform agenda my Administration has embraced over the last six years to boost investment and create jobs. We are, indeed, one of the global leaders in adopting international best practices in business regulation, property registration and protection of investments.
As a result, foreign direct investment increased from Sh35 billion in 2013 to Sh200 billion in 2017.
There will be even more investment and jobs when we commission the Naivasha Industrial Park, located at the border between Narok and Nakuru Counties, and Special Economic Zones in Kisumu, Mombasa’s Dongo Kundu and Lamu, among others.
We, however, have much further to go. Too many Kenyans are still struggling to make ends meet. There are not enough decent jobs for the many ambitious and learned youth graduating from our learning institutions every year.
I know and appreciate the pressure so many of you are under. The desperate phone calls and text messages that come in from near and distant friends and family appealing for help.
We Kenyans live with an open heart, and so we respond with kind words, with prayers and with our stretched wallets and purses.
We get angry as we struggle and then read in the newspapers stories about the next General –Election days after the previous one or corruption and abuse of office, knowing that the money stolen comes from our taxes. We can at times feel like despairing when the good news of our country’s progress comes a distant third to bad news, and never-ending politicking and name calling.
We are on a consistent march forward and Kenya is transforming into the nation that our forefathers prayed and fought for. Periods of great change are not easy, they are like a birth. There is pain and struggle that gets stronger just before a new child is born, with all human possibilities available to it. We are in such a moment.
I remain confident that working hard for what we know to be right, and with all our leaders across the spectrum of society pushing in the same direction, we shall get there. We must get there, and Plenty Will be Found within our Borders.
Belief in a better tomorrow and hope in the face of adversity can be hard to maintain, especially when we have evolved a form of public conversation that focuses almost exclusively on that which is negative.
Even as many great and visible developments happen among us, we mostly hear of, and discuss about what is going wrong.
I do not believe we should ever sweep bad news or inconvenient truths under the rug, or ignore wrongdoing. But, I want to urge every Kenyan and particularly those in the media and in leadership positions, to shine a light on what is good even as they identify what is holding us back.
To take time to cultivate our collective sense of national pride by giving equal prominence to the myriad of positive and uplifting stories that showcase how great a people we are. We need to lift up each other’s hope so that we can have the strength, as individuals and as a nation, to successfully navigate this process of transformation.
Universal Health Coverage
We must also continue working hard to produce value and be competitive. We are in a world where billions of people and almost two hundred countries, are competing for wealth and opportunity.
Creating value through hard work and innovation is the only way we can end up with the many growing enterprises all over the country, that will be engines for employment creation, and decent incomes we desire for our children.
As a Government we must also continue to do much more for Kenyans, by helping them to attain solutions that are not too costly or inaccessible to the majority.
When I conceptualized the “Big Four”, I had in mind those Kenyans who struggle every day to avail basic necessities to their families. I could see that most families were one major illness away from poverty.
Diverting every penny from one’s earnings to pay for medical care was forcing families into poverty. That is why we are working towards the realization of Universal Health Coverage.
To ease the exorbitant costs that our people incur in the treatment of Cancer related ailments, I am pleased to announce that the Sports, Arts & Social Development Fund has availed Ksh.1 Billion in support of Cancer Treatment Facilities across the Republic. This is our Madaraka.
In the run-up to the last General Election, I traversed the entire country seeking a fresh mandate. In my interactions with Kenyans of all walks of life, I saw the many frustrated young graduates who had done everything asked of them, and now expected the economy to produce jobs for them.
I knew that even as we worked to expand the economy, their education had to be improved to help them become more competitive and fit for purpose, and, better still, even be able to start their own enterprises.
To realize this, we delivered honest exams, and we unveiled the Competency Based Curriculum, which will prepare the coming generation of students to become globally competitive. The World has taken note and Investors are already noticing our unique abilities and know-how. Our growing diaspora remittances are the greatest testimony to the enormous potential of our people.
As I mentioned earlier, Kenya’s technology sector attracts more investment than any other country in Africa, including countries whose economies and populations are much bigger than ours. Delivering education that uplifts the skills of the youth, is why we have strived for a hundred percent (100 per cent) transition from primary into secondary education.
The “Big Four” agenda also includes reinvigorating our manufacturing sector. Jobs will come when a more competitive education is combined with a stronger manufacturing sector, and growing trade and investment. To do that, we are providing incentives, seeking investors at home and abroad, and cutting red tape and bureaucracy to enable businesses to thrive.
As we continue to experience the dividends of our growing population, affordability of decent homes has over the years eluded most of our Citizens. As a result, our Nation continues to face a huge housing deficit; particularly for the lower income households.
In keeping with the vision of our forefathers, and in response to the calls for the restoration of the dignity and the pride inherent in one owning a decent modern home, my Administration adopted the Housing Pillar as a key element of the “Big Four” agenda.
This Programme will not only restore the dignity of our people but, will also spur and stimulate the economy through jobs, supply of goods and services and other income generating activities attendant to construction of homes for our citizens.
We have established and are working closely with the TVET institutions to ensure that we are able to train and certify workers, in readiness for these forthcoming opportunities; coupled with the guarantee that at least 70 per cent of all construction materials, will be supplied by our Local Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. I call upon our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, together with our Jua-Kali Associations, to come together and ensure that they take advantage of the opportunities presented by this boom.
The Affordable Housing Programme is steadily moving towards full-realization and will benefit millions of Kenyans. In the coming weeks and months, I will be commissioning various Projects under this seminal programme; One such project is being implemented by the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS) and is expected to deliver 100,000 homes across Kenya.
The delivery of this singular project of 100,000 housing units represents a major economic transformation and the single largest housing project in our Nation’s history. 43. In addition, over 12,000 acres of National Government, County Government and Private Land have been made available for the accelerated phase of construction that will also bring on-board local and international investors.
Affordable and Decent Homes for all Kenyans are in sight. To bring this closer to reality, slightly more than a week ago, we inaugurated the Region’s first ever mortgage Refinance Company – the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company.
This entity, which is a Public Private Partnership between the Government and the Private Sector, is mandated with providing long-term large-scale funding to Banks and SACCOs, which will, in turn, be availed by those institutions to home buyers at fixed and affordable interest rates.
By this singular act, we expect to more than double the number of mortgage facilities from the current 26,000 to 60,000 by Madaraka Day in the year 2022.
The Housing Fund is the second entity through which the delivery of the Affordable Housing Programme shall be supported. The creation of the Fund was informed by the need to bridge the gap between the have and the have not’s, by creating a framework through which the traditionally unbanked can access financing towards home-ownership.
Unfortunately, the implementation of the Housing Fund Levy as a mandatory contribution for both employees and employers, has, at every turn, been fraught with legal hurdles and obstacles. It is my hope that these hurdles will be overcome without further undue delay to ensure implementation.
This will allow all Kenyans who wish to take advantage of this life-changing initiative, to realize their dream of owning a modern decent home in a rent-to-own purchase arrangement.
Already, over 216,000 Kenyans have demonstrated their confidence in the Affordable Housing Programme by registering with the Boma Yangu initiative.
We have the opportunity to change the lives of our people, channel the course of our urbanization into sustainability, and rewrite our history for the benefit of current as well as future generations.
We must seize this moment and live true to the mantra; ‘Boma Yangu, Hadhi Yangu’ – My Home, My Dignity.
As your President, I look forward to handing over no less than 500,000 house keys to first-time home owners between now and Madaraka Day 2022. Fellow Kenyans, this is a huge step towards the realization of Plenty within our Borders, and this is our Madaraka.
We recognize that we still have a sizeable number of Kenyans who struggle to put food on their table. As part of the “Big Four” agenda, we are working to make decent and healthy meals accessible and affordable for all Kenyans.
Our path to food security is anchored on ensuring significant improvement in farm productivity and by enhancing the quality of farm inputs.
Over the last three months, we have received depressed rainfall in most parts of the Country. As a result, there is likely to be decreased farm produce and pasture, leading perhaps to a shortage of essential food commodities. My Government has responded by implementing an elaborate drought mitigation plan that will guarantee continuity of supply and the availability of affordable food commodities for all our households.
In this regard, we shall purchase livestock in drought stricken counties and release maize stocks held in the Strategic Food Reserve into the market, at an affordable price. I urge our Private Sector to be responsible Corporate Citizens and not to abuse market dominance to create artificial shortages and cause unwarranted increase in food prices.
The journey of self-rule has not been without struggle in our individual and collective lives. The good news is that we are getting there. We are in a country that is changing quickly and impressive progress is being made every day.
We can be proud that in the short period since we passed our new Constitution in 2010, we have completed the quickest, most extensive and consequential transformation of any state in Africa and the world.
We successfully made our bicameral Parliament operational within three years. Two trillion shillings will have been transferred to County Governments by the financial year beginning in July, 2019.
But the money transferred matters far less than the services it has rendered and the transformation witnessed. We count not just the shillings, but the mothers and children saved. Infant mortality has fallen since 2013; hospitals at the grassroots are better-equipped and able to perform complex medical procedures for the first time in their history; Kenya’s grassroots have roared to life, with markets, towns and municipalities bustling with economic activity.
County initiated enterprise in value-addition is opening new frontiers for empowerment and economic inclusion. This is the true measure of the untapped Plenty within our Borders.
My Administration is committed to fully implement and strengthen devolution, and shall remain steadfast to this call.
I did earlier inform on the progress we have made in mobilizing investments to grow our economy and create jobs.
In doing this, we have paid particular attention to small businesses because, we know, they are the ones that create most of the jobs our people enjoy and they are the main source of their livelihood. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, will now enjoy a new revolutionary credit financing scheme – Stawi, designed to offer access to loans at a single digit interest rate. This strategy is part of unlocking our Plenty within our Borders.
Additionally we have reduced the number of days it takes to register property from over three months to just 12 days. We have also simplified the way small businesses obtain construction permits by waiving the requirement for an environmental impact assessment. The granting of approval by NEMA has been reduced to 5 days for low-risk projects.
To enhance inclusion and the economic empowerment of youth, women, and persons living with disabilities, My Administration continues to support their enterprises and transform livelihoods through The Uwezo, Women, and Youth Enterprise Funds. So far, we have disbursed over Sh285 Billion with a reach of over 5 Million households. This action is transforming this segment of our society from job seekers to job creators, creating hope for the plenty within our borders.
To foster the effectiveness of this intervention, we are merging the three Funds to create The Biashara Kenya Fund as a one-stop shop for affirmative action groups seeking affordable and accessible business loans.
Small businesses will also continue to gain from the Access to Government Procurement (AGPO) programme. Thirty percent of all Government Procurement is reserved for the Youth, Women and Persons with Disabilities.
Over 100,000 such firms have been registered to date under the Programme, and contracts worth Ksh. 88 Billion have been awarded since we began the programme in 2013.
To support and deepen this positive growth, I now wish to make two policy directives, which will provide tangible opportunities and benefits to our people. The first concerns National Government payments.
As you may be aware, the Government is the largest consumer of goods and services in our economy.
Many small businesses are built to service this demand. Unfortunately, pending payments have negatively affected many businesses, particularly those whose bulk of capital is now locked in non-payment. This has also reduced overall spending and business activity in our economy.
To alleviate this situation, I hereby direct that all Accounting Officers pay and settle all pending payments that do not have Audit Queries, on or before the end of the current Financial Year – 30th June, 2019. Further, I direct the National Treasury to secure full compliance of this directive. I also call upon County Governments to follow suit.
Going forward, and in line with our policy to promote the local industry and enterprise, “Buy Kenya Build Kenya”, I direct that all payments for supplies made to National and County Governments be processed and made promptly and on a priority basis.
The second policy directive regards the importation of goods by small and medium-size traders.
In my working tours over the last week, I have received consistent feedback from wananchi and the business community that the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has, despite its good intentions and in lawful discharge of its mandate, overly constrained the importation of goods by small and medium enterprises.
It is true that KEBS’s inspection exercises have been leading to delays in the release of imports.
Accordingly, and to strike a better balance between enhancing the ease of doing business in Kenya on one hand, and protection of the public from harmful imports, I hereby direct the Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Bureau of Standards to honour the pre-shipment inspection done by its appointed agents.
Imported goods, therefore, should not be subjected to additional inspection at the Port of entry except for cases legitimately suspected not to conform to the set standards.
We shall also initiate business tax reforms and the restructuring of port logistics operations. All efforts will be made to guarantee the predictability of business operations.
We can take pride in modernizing our infrastructure, connecting more households with electricity, and look forward to the benefits that continue to accrue to our people.
The Madaraka Express will roar and honk into Mai Mahiu in the coming months, marking the completion of Phase 2A of the Standard Gauge Railway Project. It will inject new economic vigour and activity into the area, which will also play host to Kenya’s premier Special Economic Zone and Industrial Park. Furthermore, for the first time in Kenya’s history, modern highways are under construction to link Garissa to Modogashe, Garsen to Lamu and Kibwezi to Kitui and Migwani.
Numerous other projects of the same nature, including the upgrading of the Roads Infrastructure that we have seen here in Narok County today, such as the 82 Km Narok-Sekenan Road, the gateway to the world famous Mara – now 72 per cent complete, and the Mau Narok – Kisiriri Road, are tangible examples of the progress we are making in the path of transformation.
In this County alone, we are implementing public infrastructure projects worth over Sh10 billion. These positive transformations, in this County and across the entire Republic, are visible examples of the expansion of Plenty within our Borders.
We continue to power freedom by connecting households, schools, towns and market centres previously deemed undeserving the dignity of electricity connection.
In pursuit of this national endeavor, we have achieved a connectivity rate of 74% of all Kenyan households, from a low of 27 per cent in 2013. We shall continue to enhance efforts to achieve universal access to electricity by 2022.
Information, Communication and Technology is the greatest catalyst in our quest to become Africa’s technology hub.
Every day, I am inspired by reports of new applications and software developed to support farmers, schools, and market access for produce. Online shopping today is as prolific as it is diverse. These applications are often as simple as they are life changing, spurring local economic and social development and, indeed, quality jobs for our youth, to heights previously unknown.
The recently launched “Digital Economy Blue Print” provides the framework for the expansion of this potential, and the realization of a sustainable digital economy in Kenya in line with our aspiration. I look forward to living this dream.
We celebrate improvements in provision of public services. The i-tax system and the e-Citizen platform are globally acclaimed as the two of the most innovative public service delivery channels.
On the other hand, the 52 Huduma Centres currently in operation continue to serve close to 50,000 customers every day. More than 24 million have been served to date.
I thank the County Governments for heeding my call to introduce business permits and other county government services in Huduma Centres and we continue to harness more services. The ease with which wananchi access government and other vital services has been revolutionized by this innovation.
The Huduma Namba builds up on this successful concept. It will allow us to continue improving planning and service provision while allowing your taxes to work better for you. I applaud the 37.7 million Kenyans who have registered.
Makon Ngamani Dancers entertain during Madaraka Day celebrations in Mombasa in this photo taken on June 1, 2019.
We aspire to the call by our distinguished Nobel laureate, the late Prof. Wangari Maathai.
To ensure that plenty is sustainably found within our borders, in line with her vision, My Administration has rolled out the greening Kenya initiative that will see our tree cover soar to 10 per cent by the year 2022.
I challenge all Kenyans to plant a tree in their neighbourhood and help transform our environment a tree at a time.
Sports remains the foremost ambassador of the Kenyan brand and the greatest source of national pride.
In recognition of its place, my Administration is keeping its word and has concretized support to our Sports men and women in the various disciplines. Through the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund, we have only yesterday distributed Sh181 million to 3,338 athletes who obtained gold, silver and bronze medals during the period 2010 to 2019.
This is in appreciation of their stellar accomplishments in the name of this, our great country.
I am also informed that Kenya’s participation at the African Confederation Cup (AFCON) 2019 is now secured through a Ksh.244 million disbursement to Harambee Stars, through the Football Kenya Federation (FKF). The glory days of the World Championship Safari Rally are set to return and we expect to host the main event in the year 2020.
Inua Jamii Programme
We are a Government that cares for all its citizens. In this context and to restore the dignity of our senior citizens, we continue to support them under the Inua Jamii Programme. In the six short years, the programme has grown from 200,000 to 1.3 million beneficiaries; with the funding rising from Sh6.5 Billion in 2013 to Sh26 billion this year. Cumulatively, we have invested over Sh125 billion in our Madaraka Generation.
Development of any nation is wholly dependent on the wellness of its people; I have noted with extreme sadness and profound concern, the recent rise in reported cases of suicides and homicides in the Country, particularly femicides. As Your President, and as a Husband, a Father and a Grandfather, it pains me to see the distress and anguish in the faces of family members who are left behind by one, who felt that life offered them no other option.
Depression has today become a common phenomenon and it affects persons from all walks of life and ages. I urge employers and institutions of learning to invest more time and resources in monitoring and facilitating the mental well-being of their charges. I, therefore, direct the Ministry of Health in consultation with County Governments, Ministries of Education, Labour & Social Protection and Public Service, Youth & Gender Affairs, to formulate an appropriate policy response.
To anyone who is struggling with depression or feelings of hopelessness, I beseech you to reach out, talk, you are not alone.
I am encouraging all Kenyans to be their brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. Check up on your Family Members and Friends; be their safe harbour. A little caring, in a world where we have become too busy for one another, goes a long way.
With regard to homicides, and in particular femicides, there can never be any admissible reason to take an innocent life. You not only end the life of the person you kill but ruin your own life in the process as well.
There can never be any cause or justification to take another life. The law will apply indiscriminately on anyone who takes the life of another. Once again, I urge all parents, our religious leaders, our teachers and our mentors to stand with our young men and women.
I urge you to take deliberate steps to work with them in reinvigorating the values of humanity, respect, dignity and honour in their lives and in their engagement with others.
War on corruption
What makes a nation a nation is not its wealth, but its people’s trust in each other. Corruption is greed: it steals our wealth and our trust alike.
The war against corruption, is a war we are undertaking with no joy, but one that will continue with no reluctance. I will not stop until the house we inherited from our forefathers has been swept clean. Then, the Plenty within our Borders, can be secured for current and future generations.
In the recent past, I have refrained from constant reference to our war on corruption. This is not a waning of determination, but rather, a clear indication of the confidence and trust that I have in our investigation and prosecution agencies, and my belief that we have resourced and equipped them with the capacity to tackle this war.
Kenyans are now demanding to see the end product of all these investigations and prosecutions. The judiciary must deliver justice, with cases being heard and determined expeditiously; money must be recovered; and culprits must vacate their positions and serve jail terms for the process to come full circle.
We must return to that time when honesty and modesty were not traits of weakness. A time when greed and selfishness were abhorred vices. A time when the spirit of selflessness, brought harmony and equity. Over time, corruption has threatened this spirit. We must make a return to reason.
We must be our brother’s keepers. We must work together, united against all evils that demean our society. I am proud of our diversity. Look around you, right here in this stadium.
We are men and women from every part of this great Country; men and women who worship God in different ways; men and women who speak a variety of languages. And yet all of us are gathered here as one, united to celebrate the country that we love. Our Home, Our Nation, Our Beloved Kenya.
Let me re-emphasize this point, we should take pride in being a diverse country, a mosaic of 44 ethnicities, but a nation of one people, that is always seeking to heal its divisions. We are not divided because we are Maasai, or Pokomo, or Luhya, or Kamba nor because we are Muslim or Christian; we are divided because these differences have been used, in politics especially, to place imaginary wedges between us.
We are also divided by the politics of grievance and resentment. We must be bold enough and reclaim the Unity we enjoyed at independence. That is why I initiated the “Building Bridges Initiative” – The Handshake.
The Initiative continues to cultivate harmony and inspire hope among Kenyans. It ushered in an era of calm and co-operation where Kenyans embraced each other more.
Let us continue along the same path, holding each other close, and promising that we will never again be divided by politics along ethnic or religious lines.
Let us undertake today, to be a united and a cohesive society, a society of men and women striving for excellence and who are ready to stand the test of time. Reject Corruption and stick to the pathways of truth. This way we will sustainably drive our country to lasting greatness.