Pol­icy Seeks to Has­ten Eco­nomic Growth

Diplomat East Africa - - Table of Contents - By ROBIN OBINO

The Kenya gov­ern­ment has sought to bring di­as­pora in­vest­ment and remit­tances into the econ­omy in a more struc­tured man­ner through the newly launched for­eign pol­icy strat­egy that is hinged on the pil­lars of econ­omy, peace, en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture.

The eco­nomic pil­lar of the pol­icy that was un­veiled by Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta last month is aimed at achiev­ing vig­or­ous and sus­tained growth that will sup­port re­cip­ro­cal bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral re­la­tions in trade, tax­a­tion and in­vest­ment as en­vi­sioned in the coun­try’s eco­nomic blue­print, Vi­sion 2030.

Keny­atta said the gov­ern­ment will tar­get both new and the tra­di­tional eco­nomic part­ners to in­crease trade and deepen in­vest­ment re­la­tions. “While our econ­omy was re­cently re­based mak­ing the coun­try a mid­dle-in­come coun­try and the 9th largest econ- omy in Africa, we know that too many of our peo­ple re­main poor and lack op­por­tu­nity. Eco­nomic diplo­macy forms a crit­i­cal part of our devel­op­ment push.”

Kenya be­ing a mem­ber of the East African Com­mu­nity (EAC), with an es­ti­mated pop­u­la­tion of about 124 mil­lion, en­joys pref­er­en­tial tar­iff rates for ex­ports and im­ports within mem­ber states. The coun­try is also a mem­ber of the Com­mon Mar­ket for Eastern and South­ern Africa (COMESA) with an es­ti­mated pop­u­la­tion of about 400 mil­lion.

Eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts opine that Kenya’s cen­tral po­si­tion as a re­gional hub in trade and diplo­macy will play an im­por­tant role in mak­ing the econ­omy more sta­ble. Fears that the crimes against hu­man­ity cases fac­ing the Pres­i­dent and his Deputy Mr Wil­liam Ruto at the In­ter­na­tional

Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) would ad­versely af­fect Kenya’s in­ter­na­tional stand­ing have proved un­founded.

The case against Keny­atta has since col­lapsed for lack of ev­i­dence while that against Ruto is wob­bling. Kenya’s tra­di­tional west­ern al­lies were seen as har­bour­ing the ‘Choices have Con­se­quences’ edict that was is­sued by the US As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary in charge of African af­fairs, Mr John­nie Car­son, just be­fore the 2013 elec­tion that ush­ered Keny­atta to power.

Prof Munene Macharia of the United States In­ter­na­tional Uni­ver­sity-Kenya says Keny­atta’s re­la­tions with both the East and the West in the light of the ICC cases showed that he was not lean­ing to­wards any of the blocs; he was only up­hold­ing Kenya’s in­ter­na­tional in­ter­ests.

“He has sim­ply per­formed equally well on both the in­ter­na­tional front and the do­mes­tic front. Ad­di­tion­ally, his po­si­tion as chair of both the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Author­ity on Devel­op­ment (IGAD) and, un­til re­cently, the EAC made him a re­gional point man whom the West and the East can­not ig­nore. This adds a feather to our devel­op­ment cap,” said Macharia.

Kenya’s strate­gic po­si­tion at the Horn of Africa also comes into play, ac­cord­ing to Prof Peter Kag­wanja, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the African Pol­icy In­sti­tute (API). He says Keny­atta re­alised early that the West’s po­si­tion on the ICC could have an ef­fect not only to Kenya but also the EAC and so de­cided to play hard­ball, the cli­max be­ing his speech at the African Union (AU). The trick has worked well for him.

“Keny­atta was not only the EAC and IGAD chair but the con­venor of the So­ma­lia and South-Su­dan peace ini­tia­tives. From play­ing the Pan-African­ism card by iden­ti­fy­ing the AU as the ac­tion-point by us­ing Kenya’s for­eign pol­icy as an African pol­icy, to ini­ti­at­ing the coali­tion of the will­ing with EAC, he has per­formed well,” he says.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Trade, the un­der­ly­ing prin­ci­ples of Kenya’s for­eign pol­icy have been a strong ad­vo­cacy for a rule­based in­ter­na­tional sys­tem, en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able and eq­ui­table devel­op­ment and a se­cure world. This has been stressed in dif­fer­ent fo­rums even be­fore the for­eign pol­icy launch.

Dur­ing a Euro­pean UnionAfrica Sum­mit in Brussels in April last year, Keny­atta used the op­por­tu­nity as EAC chair to call for col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Africa and the EU in achiev­ing the con­ti­nent’s devel­op­ment goals. He has since handed over the chair­man­ship of the Com­mu­nity to his Tan­za­nian coun­ter­part Mr Jakaya Kik­wete.

The Min­istry says that with the ini­ti­a­tion of rapid glob­al­i­sa­tion and in­creased com­pe­ti­tion among states for ex­port mar­kets and in­vest­ments, a re­ori­en­ta­tion of Kenya’s for­eign pol­icy is nec­es­sary and as a re­sult, Kenya has sought to strengthen tra­di­tional ties with Europe, Ja­pan and the United States while deep­en­ing co­op­er­a­tion with emerg­ing economies in Latin Amer­ica, Asia, and the Mid­dle East

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