KENYAN President Uhuru Kenyatta said Wednesday that infrastructure modernisation, renewed war against corruption, concerted efforts to sustain peace and cohesion will form part of his legacy.
Kenyatta, who addressed the nation during the celebrations to mark 59 years after Kenya attained self-rule from British colonialists, said the country had recorded impressive economic growth since he took power in April 2013 amid investments in modern roads, ports, railways and fibre optic.
‘My tenure in office put emphasis on transformative programs and reforms in healthcare, education, agriculture, energy, housing, social protection, commerce and industry,’ said Kenyatta.
The 61-year-old Kenyatta who presided over the last public holiday ahead of August 9 polls when he is expected to hand over power to his successor, added that fighting graft and promoting national unity had created a conducive environment to attract investments and spur economic growth.
According to Kenyatta, his administration had constructed an additional 11,000 kilometres of tarmacked roads countrywide, besides enhancing access to electricity, clean water, shelter and health.
‘Infrastructure has a way of turning swamps into cities, dead spaces into high-value property, and village shopping centres into huge city malls. Without infrastructure, there is no way of finding new possibilities,’ he said.
The president said that big-ticket infrastructure projects like the Chinese-built 480-kilometre Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) were aimed at stimulating economic growth for the long haul.
Kenyatta, who has served his two terms in office, said the Chinese-built 27.1 kilometres Nairobi Expressway, the first of its kind in Africa, had already raised Kenya’s stature as an investment destination.
He clarified that Kenya’s debt to GDP ratio was within limit, adding that improved fiscal discipline under his administration had ensured borrowed funds were utilised prudently.
Kenyatta defended the rising public debt by his administration, saying that the country is still in a position to service its debts.
He said that the next government should not shy away from borrowing to develop the country, provided the money does not end in corruption.
‘The only time debt is a burden to the nation is if a nation is led by looters. But in the hands of a visionary administration, debt is a catalyst for rapid development,’ Kenyatta said.
Modernising the security sector ensured that Kenya was protected from domestic and external aggressors, building investor confidence and allowing local start-ups to thrive, said Kenyatta.
Kenyatta added that a devolved form of governance that he presided over as dictated by the constitution fostered inclusive growth, cohesion and stability.
He said that under his administration, Kenya pushed for enhanced regional trade and integration, besides advocating for indigenous solutions to Africa’s endemic challenges like civil strife.
‘On the global stage, we remain a leader in cooperative multilateral order as evidenced by our membership of the United Nations Security Council, which has provided us a voice on international peace and security matters threatening humanity,’ said Kenyatta.
He cited corruption as one of the greatest undoings in development which hindered development projects when he took power in 2013.
Kenyatta said the government has been forced to use the military to return sanity to a number of state organisations that have been riddled with corruption.
He noted that re-engineering the education system to emphasise on skills acquisition has ensured that the country’s youth are qualified for jobs of the future.
Kenyatta said that championing gender equality remained his administration’s key priority in the last nine years, adding that the country had six female cabinet members, a female chief justice and a female deputy presidential candidate thanks to affirmative action.
Kenyatta said that investments in world-class sea ports, modern railways, highways and dams had not only hastened economic growth but created new jobs while fostering political stability.
Kenyatta said that digitisation of the public sector, which accelerated during his nine-year reign, improved service delivery, reduced wastage and improved ease of doing business in the country.
He noted that in the last nine years, Kenya had moved from the 12th largest to the sixth largest economy in Africa, thanks to streamlined revenue collection and higher foreign direct investments.