President and Executive Director of Vitendo 4 Africa
Ladies and gentlemen,
- It is my great honour to communicate with you this evening. I would have wished to be with you physically but due to exigency of duty and other commitments I am unable to make it. Foremost receive greetings from the Kenya Embassy and I wish to thank the organizers of this important event for making the Kenya Embassy to be part of you. I note with great appreciation that this event is dedicated to celebrating our community leaders and organizations who are supporting immigrant and refugees’ families in our midst.
- I thank them for going out of their way to make the lives of their brothers and sisters comfortable as they land in this foreign land. This part of the world you will agree with me can be lonely and cruel especially if there is nobody to provide you with a soft landing as well as link you to the numerous opportunities which could appear obvious but in reality very scarce to a stranger with no networks and connections.
- Kenya continues to enjoy cordial bilateral relations with the US which dates back to the time of independence. The relations cuts across many fields and sectors such as education, trade, defense cooperation, health, and security, amongst others. I am glad that St. Louis City and Community continue to provide a safe haven for the Kenyan diaspora a testament that our relationship transcends the national level and diaspora of Kenyan origin continues to be integrated within the diverse communities of the US.
- The Embassy welcomes your idea of establishing the sister partnership between the City of St. Louis and Voi. This could provide avenues of collaboration and sharing of experiences in tackling urbanization challenges as well tapping on the opportunities that the two cities have. The planned outbound visit by the Louis World trade Center and St. Louis Chamber of commerce also provides a good platform for the private sector to interact and mutually seek opportunities.
- I would urge the outbound delegation to consider our investment opportunities which have been prioritized by the new administration of H.E President William Ruto. These priorities focus on 5 main areas/pillars and includes: agriculture, affordable housing, Universal health care, Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and digital Superhighway and creative economy. There are also opportunities in the enablers such as power, transport, and logistics and financial amongst others. This could be undertaken individually, through joint ventures or through public-private partnership. I must say that Kenya’s business environment has been improving and it has unique characteristics that puts it ahead of others in the region.
- Kenya has the third largest population of about 55 million in the EAC region, that are youthful and has a growing middle class that demands high value goods. Just as our nationals continue to excel in this market, Kenya has a large pool of youthful, trainable workforce. The Country has an excellent business ecosystem that attracts a high number of multinationals to set up regional headquarters. It’s strategic location as a gateway to the region and its easier aviation connection makes it an economic hub that every investor would not wish to ignore
- Allow me also to address some of you whom I consider as diaspora, either through origin or by descent. The Kenya Diaspora in the US plays a very significant role in the economic development of our country. The US remains home to a large number of Kenyan Diaspora. The Diaspora is an important constituent in our nation building and development. Today, remittances from the Diaspora are the number one single foreign exchange earner for Kenya. In 2022, the total remittances from the diaspora were $ 4.027 billion with US alone accounting for 55.5% of this amount. The diaspora has connections, are knowledgeable, has critical skills and financial strength that the government could leverage on for economic transformation. The government is targeting to mainstream this category in national development through trade, investment as well as a financing vehicle. The Government fully acknowledges this role and the new administration under H.E President William Ruto elevated diaspora as a State Department in the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs.
- In the coming few months or years, a lot of conversation is going to target this category, ignited especially with the appointment of Diaspora Council members by the Biden’s administration. I believe that we can achieve a lot when our mutual interests intersect with the overall African diasporas’. I would also urge you not to shy away from seeking elective leadership positions in this Country. It is through them that we can begin to assert our influence.
- I would add that the pivotal roles of our Kenyan diaspora surpass their traditional role of foreign exchange remittances. They import Kenyan products to the US and therefore promote the Kenya-US trade. They are part of foreign direct investors at home in a number of sectors. They also transfer knowledge and skills that they have acquired in the host country. I applaud them for being our good ambassadors in the US and working very closely with the Embassy to fly our flag high.
- Last but not least I would wish to state that Kenya prides itself of the unique tourist products and facilities that are world class. The products range from wildlife safari, unique sceneries, amazing culture, mouthwatering cuisines to very hospitable communities. Nairobi National Park, the only wildlife park in the world, close to a capital city is only 4.3 miles away, therefore a visit to the capital should see your families, friends and associates visiting these facilities.
- Thank you very much for your kind attention and I wish you a successful gala evening.