Raila Odinga

Category: News



Chairperson of the Council of Governors;
I am honoured to be with you again.
Thank you for the invitation.
I always look forward to this event.
I do because I continue to believe that Devolution is the best thing that Kenyans ever gave themselves after independence.
And I come here faithfully because I recognize and respect the governors and the work they do as the people on the ground.
As people on the ground, governors have a good idea what works and what does not; what should remain, what should be improved and what should be scrapped outright.
And that is also why I continue to call for a closer and more cordial working relationship between the County governments and the National government. When counties function, the entire country functions.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
In the success story we are witnessing with Devolution lies another story that we rarely tell.
It is the story of change.
Change is always scary.
It implies a shift in thinking and re-organization of institutions, communities and even government.
That is why change is resisted through numerous excuses.
But the story of Devolution tells us never to fear change.
Change is the only constant thing in life. Successful nations are those that refuse to settle for less and constantly review and probe their systems and structures with a view to making them more perfect and responsive to emerging challenges and changing circumstances.
The story of certain parts of the country getting tarmac roads, piped water and street lights for the first time since independence proves that devolution has brought life where both the colonial government and independent Kenya failed.
Devolution has done what conventional thinking and the fear of change failed to do for over 50 years. Nobody should take that for granted.
Today, I wish to share some quick thoughts on our journey of change going forward particularly with regard to devolution.
I will be appealing to you to be brave and bold and never fear to push for change just because you will make enemies.
The successes of the two levels of government means Devolution is here to stay with us.

It means that even as we talk of the need for constitutional reforms to perfect and strengthen our governance, devolved units will remain part of the reformed structure we intend to create. Our task should be to ask ourselves how.
Because this Devolution conference is taking place against the background of intense debate about constitutional reforms, one of the issues we must address ourselves to here is what should be the most appropriate structure and content of sustainable devolved government in Kenya now and into the future.
One of the facts we are dealing with but hardly acknowledging is that a number of our counties as they are today are too tiny to compete and to marshal internal and external resources for their development. They are small in population, base for agricultural production, manufacturing, innovation and infrastructural development.
I believe our counties would do better were they to be grouped into bigger entities. The creation of regional blocks is a logical response to dealing with this problem of “economies of scale” in enhancing the potential for development of counties.
This forum and the Council of Governors should robustly consider and debate the need for using the envisaged constitutional reforms to formalize regionalism in law.
The need is clearly there. That is why we are witnessing the emergences of regional economic blocs such as Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani, Lake Region Economic Bloc, Mount Kenya and Aberdares Counties Economic Bloc, North Rift Economic Bloc, South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc and Frontier Counties Development Council among others.
Formalization of regionalism would not necessarily mean dismantling the counties as they are today.
For comparative purposes, we have a perfect example in the USA where they have county, federal and national governments. Nobody should stifle this debate for fear of change or merely political expediency.

We also acknowledge that this gathering has happened without fail for the last six years. I congratulate you for keeping it going.
However, to make it more effective and avoid being seen as a mere talking shop, I want to recommend that devolved units adopt some kind of peer review mechanism and a system of performance evaluation and reporting. The National Government has enthusiastically embraced peer review mechanism and has been recognized in Africa for that.
It is the turn of our counties to come up with a similar framework for independent assessment. I am talking of a structured journey for peer learning, capacity building, ensuring that we emulate success stories and correcting one another to improve the lives of our people.
I am not talking of a program for punishing people one for identifying strong and positive programmes and processes, sharing them and rectifying our individual weaknesses.
It should be open and participatory and should include all stakeholders, including civil society organisations, women, youth, trade unions and the private sector.
In this regard, I am particularly encouraged by the multi-agency efforts to implement the County Peer Review Mechanism (CPRM) with the aim of entrenching African Peer Review Mechanism governance principles in our Counties.
I encourage county governments to cooperate with the NEPAD Secretariat in Nairobi which is enthusiastic about walking with them on this journey.
At a time our country is reeling from numerous reports of monumental corruption scandals and outright criminality on the part of some, every effort to stamp out the vice of corruption, including opportunities for peer review should be embraced by all.
And I am happy that majority of Kenyans have embraced the war against corruption. That war is currently blind to tribe, race, religion, gender or status in society. We must all support it.

As Counties rightly clamour for a bigger share of the shareable revenue, let this be accompanied by a demonstrable enthusiasm for voluntary submission to peer reviews for the overall benefit of the citizenry.
There is also the question of intra-governmental and inter-governmental relationships as envisaged in the Constitution.

We need clearer modalities for embracing, promoting and institutionalizing the principles of cooperation, collaboration, consultation, coordination, consensus and concurrence between these two governments.
In particular, we need clearer framework for money following functions in a more structured and predictable manner.
We need a clearer framework for involvement county governments in the realization of the Big Four agenda of housing, agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare. There is a cordial atmosphere for a sober discussion on these matters now.
Further, we need clearer framework for partnerships in addressing our troubled fiscal situation with particular focus on revenue collection in the counties. Improved revenue collection in our counties is important not only for counties, but the national economy as well.
In the spirit of intergovernmental relations, the National Government needs to provide counties with practical and effective experiences for boosting revenue generation and collection in addition to other measures that would strengthen fiscal policy of counties and their ability to finance development plans. In a nutshell, a little bit of thinking outside the box is necessary and inevitable if we are to improve on the structure, quality and content of devolved governance. I thank you.



Ladies and Gentlemen;
We last met as an organ at about the same time a year ago.
The circumstances then were fundamentally different from today. The country was torn down the middle.
There was anger and fury across the land.
We were furious and spoiling for a fight as a party.
From the flames of this time a year ago, a much more peaceful nation has emerged, thanks to our ability to look at the bigger picture and the willingness of our opponents to engage.
Our issues as a party and problems as a nation are not gone despite the calm that has returned to the land.
But we have an environment to soberly identify and seek solutions to those problems.
I wish to thank you and all our supporters for supporting for Building Bridges to a New Kenyan Nation initiative.
I am aware that many of you had concerns about the circumstances under which the initiative came to be.
But as we have gone out to explain, you have come out to embrace the move as a necessary product of the circumstances and one that is good for our country and our party.
For purposes of helping you take the message to the grassroots, I will highlight key contents of the BBI and why they matter.
I believe we are in agreement that the biggest challenge facing our country today is how to create one united nation out of our diversities.
Creating one nation out of Kenya has been the dream of this party since its inception more than a decade ago. It has always been the dream of our founding fathers.
We are also agreed on the need to create a more positive culture in our country, built around national ethos that are currently lacking.
We are currently defined by mega corruption and violence, a tag that works against us in favour of our neighbours.
We also all agree that there are Kenyans who feel completely left out in the affairs of their nation; Kenyans who don’t feel they are Kenyans because they are ignored and marginalized in their own land.
We are also in agreement that Devolution has done wonders for our country but it needs to be strengthened so that it can offer more benefits to more people than it has so far.
And we are agreed that we need to fix our elections so that elections cease being a threat to our stability, economy and lives every five years.
Corruption in particular is eating our country from inside out and we are agreed that we must devise new, radical and more ruthless measures to deal with the corrupt or we sink as a nation.
These, in brief, are the issues of the Building Bridges to the New Kenyan Nation initiative that we entered into at around this time last year and that has changed the tone of our politics across the nation. I thank you once again for supporting this initiative despite earlier misgivings and doubts. And I want to appeal to you to do more. As you are aware, the BBI team is currently going around the country collecting views on all the nine issues identified in the MOU.
I encourage you to familiarize yourselves with the issues and go out and give your views on how to deal with the issues.
The BBI team has covered 19 counties. I urge you to sensitize our people to engage.
I am aware that there are other issues that this meeting is expected to address with regard to party affiliation and loyalty.
I wish to remind our members and supporters that despite the handshake and the building bridges initiative, party loyalty remains both critical and valuable.
Even as we reach out and encourage our members to do so and build bridges with one time adversaries, we must draw the line between building bridges and undermining our party in the name of the handshake.
We are not using the handshake for conspiracies against our party and to shield criminal enterprises.
Our goal must always be to fashion a party that is clear in its goals and united in purpose, strategy and resolve.
We are focused on a fundamental recovery of the soul and architecture of the Kenyan nation. We remain unchanged in our resolve as a party to create a free, fair, equitable, just and democratic nation in Kenya.
To this end, let us put aside our selfish inclinations and begin to work for the party and Kenyans, not for ourselves.
To be in a good position to realize our dreams for our country, we must ORGANIZE and STRENGTHEN the party at the grassroots. In many places today, there is confusion about who our officials are and about the issues and our stand on them in the ear of building bridges. The party must move with speed and address these.
Finally, I want this party to stand firmly against corruption and the corrupt.
Our party must sensitize our people across the country to reject, name and shame those involved in this crime against the people.
We are witnessing a level of corruption never seen before in our country.
It is a web that has all the makings of a criminal enterprise working from within the State itself.
We must reject attempts by this enterprise to turn the war against them into an affair of their communities and we must reject attempts by these criminals to target, criminalize and stigmatize investigative agencies. We must take lead in making life difficult for purveyors of corruption.
Thank you.



It is a pleasure to be at this great conference.
It comes at a critical moment in our country with regard to our economy, politics and our grand vision of the future.
The situation is more or less the same for Africa and the entire globe. It is a time of significant changes in Africa and across the world and a period of uncertainty, especially for workers, job seekers, leaders and employers all at once.
Whether they are talking of the Wall and tariffs in the US, Migration laws in Europe or Brexit in the UK, the common denominator is the future of work and the future of workers.
It is the same story when we in Africa talk of Vision 2063, of greater connectivity via infrastructure, Single African Air Transport Market, the African Continental Free Trade Area, it is about the future of work and workers, of trade and traders and traders and their investments.
Across the world, and in Africa in particular, we are struggling with how to ensure full employment for our people, how to provide quality education for our children, security and equality of opportunity for all citizens, regardless of their race, their origin, or tribe.
Wherever we have come from for this meeting, I believe that one of the most pressing issues we face in our countries is work; how to provide well-paying and sustainable jobs for our people especially our youth.
And jobs are not about welfare of individuals. Jobs affirm the soundness of the economy. Availability of jobs ensures security, dignity and better pay for workers.
This means job creation should be a concern to the worker, the employer, the management and, most important, to the trade unionist fighting for the welfare of workers.
As a country, we have always believed in strong and responsible Trade Union movement. Even at our lowest moments, we have always embraced the idea that workers need protection and so they need strong unions to protect and represent their interests.
We believe in trade unions that use their power to think not just about today’s pay and working conditions but also how to ensure we create a vibrant economy that creates more jobs for more jobless. We must admit that even as we champion interests of those already in employment, there are millions of our citizens who are out of work and are praying that we can create a good environment for more firms to set up here and take in more people.
In this regard, I hold the view that workers are better served when they, through their unions, build genuine trust and understanding with employers and when there is genuine trust between management and trade union officials, including shop stewards.
What this means is that management and unions need to stop regarding each other with suspicion. It means management, unions and employers need to stop viewing each other as adversaries and instead regard each other as partners in a joint venture.
I know this is easier said than done. I know many workers are making do with deplorable working conditions without even basic protections just because employers feel there is a glut of job seekers willing to take up work at the most miserable of conditions.
I also know there are employers struggling with near impossible demands of workers who feel they deserve better because of their level of education and service to society.
The answer lies in a collaborative approach that makes workers, employers and managers view each other as partners in a joint venture. This approach serves the interests of all.
It means pupils remain in school with their teachers, patients are attended to by their doctors, factories keep running while the workers, including teachers, doctors and all others get what is seen and agreed to a fair deal that also allows the employers the space to provide desired services, expand to absorb more people while also making some profit for those that need to do so.
The fact is that our countries have suffered too much and too long from employers, management and unions regarding each other with suspicion and as enemies. Unions and employers have behaved as adversaries rather than as partners in a joint venture.
We need to encourage greater participation and involvement of employees before management takes decisions. Employees need to know about proposed changes and the introduction of new measures that may affect their future. They need to know this in good time so they have a chance to express their views and weigh their options.
The input by workers experience may actually enable organisations and firms to foresee things, which had escaped the notice of management.
Where recognised trade unions exist, they must be allowed to use their machinery for negotiations and consultations with employers and ensure that their views are considered alongside others.
The right to participate should be available to all employees whether trade unionists or not. But this does not mean management and employers should not make decisions.
In the balance of power between workers and employers, none should hold the other at ransom. None should take advantage of the other.
All should be guided by the idea that partnership and co-operation are essential for economic recovery and economic recovery is vital for better working conditions.
Workers, unions and employers must therefore change attitude. Dismissing labourers and withholding of labour or strikes must therefore be tools of last resort.
The need for co-operation and dialogue needs to be inculcated at all levels of both government and private sector.
Governments should not have any difficulty in working with trade unions. And unions should have no problem negotiating with government in an environment devoid of victor and loser mind-sets.
The economic problems of the nation need to be mastered by both workers or their unions and employers alike.
In Kenya last year, the political class or rather a section of it set an example of what we can achieve when we give dialogue a chance. In about a week, we shall be marking the first anniversary of the March 9th handshake between president Uhuru Kenyatta and I.
I have had occasion to discuss the import of that event with a number of labour movement leaders including secretary general brother Francis Atwoli and I know they agree it was a turning point.
The labour movement in Kenya knows that the Kenyan workers were the main beneficiaries of the handshake as it calmed the heated political temperatures in the country and restored investor confidence.
The few months of uncertainty before and after elections had seen Kenya lose over 100,000 jobs.
A stable nation where leaders talk to each other guarantees a better economy hence job opportunities for workers. That should always be our goal; the welfare of the workers which translates into the welfare of the nation.
I am glad that this conference is dedicated to the education of the workers. This is an important area for possible collaboration between unions and governments. It is important for African governments to consider funding education programmes for workers because a better skilled and knowledgeable work force is more productive and better placed to engage on issues of industrial relations including strike actions.
In Kenya, the Labour movement has called on the government to consider supporting workers’ education through funding of Tom Mboya Labour College. I support this call.
I am aware that the government has previously supported the college by financing a resource center. But the second phase of that project stalled due to lack of funds. I will stand with the Labour movement in lobbying for support.
In the end, it boils down to how workers, employers and governments relate. This has impact on economy, which in turn has impact in the welfare of the workers. We must always have this in mind.
I believe the great majority of trade union leaders are reasonable people who know the economic conditions in their countries.
I believe employers too, including governments, know the difficult conditions their workers are struggling with. As you fight boldly for strong and free trade unions as you should, also engage sincerely and strongly with employers, including governments. A win-win approach must always be our goal as none succeeds without the other.
Thank you and God bless you.




Once again, the devil has struck at the heart of our country. We wish to express our deep shock and disgust at the abhorrent acts of terror that occurred yesterday, January 15, 2019 evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this extremely difficult time. We stand firmly on the side of Kenya and all people of goodwill in this war with evil that terrorists represent.
We condemn in the strongest terms possible this dastardly act of cowardice perpetrated by enemies of human civilization.

We commend our security forces for the robust, rapid and coordinated response to this evil that saw lives saved and the country reassured. We commend our citizens for being each other’s keeper and responding to appeals for blood donations and we appreciate the professionalism of our care givers and first responders.

We thank the international community for standing with Kenya at this critical juncture. We saw a global coalition against terror in action in this attack. We assure the international community that we will stand with the Government of Kenya and all forces for good in the global campaign against terrorism.

All indications are that as a nation, despite persisting challenges with regard to securing our homeland, we are learning and getting wiser and better with every unfortunate attack. Our goal must remain the ability to completely keep these forces of evil out of our borders and weeding them entirely out of our mist. As a nation, we must reject divisions of all sorts be they religious, ethnic, regional or even political.

Such divisions are what terrorists thrive on. Where we have closed ranks, terrorists try to plant fear and suspicion to create space for them to thrive. We must reject all such attempts. The terrorists who attacked us this past day did not seek to know the tribes, religion, party affiliation or region of origin of the victims.

Their mission was to cause pain and fear and they proceeded to do so without seeking details. Our survival depends on standing together against these agents of doom. We appeal to Kenyans to continue being each other’s keepers and continue offering help where it is needed.

We appeal to the international community to continue standing with Kenya. As citizens, we must continue working with security agencies during this operation and well into the future in order to secure our land.
To the terrorist-take note that you shall never intimidate nor destroy the spirit of the people of Kenya by your beastly acts.

Kenya shall continue discharging its obligations to its citizens and commitment to the civilized community of nations without looking over its shoulders.
The fallen victims are our heroes in the war against international terrorism. God Bless Kenya.

JANUARY 16, 2019.




Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking the University of Nairobi for hosting us this afternoon. It is always a great pleasure and honor to be and exchange views at this great academic institution that has shaped opinions and policies of our nation over the years.

A robust exchange of views is healthy for any society and Kenya is no exception. In fact, meeting here to exchange views as we do today continues to remind us of our journey of liberation as a nation. It was not always a given that anybody could walk into Taifa Hall and deliver a lecture. We fought for this freedom and we must continue to guard jealously this hard won freedom to gather, to express ourselves and to hold opinions without looking over our shoulders.

I always value listening to leaders from all backgrounds as well as to accomplished and aspiring scholars to enrich my thoughts on the way forward for our country, Kenya and for Africa and I must admit I have benefitted immensely from these engagements over the years.
As you know, in the year 2012, the Foundation honoured me as a Champion of Democracy while I was serving as the second Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya.

But our ties run deeper. Your early investment in developing the civil service in the immediate post-independence period, your strong investment in the International Fellowships Program (IFP) has produced many leaders that today offer their skills and vision towards a much more equal, fairer and just Kenya. We thank you for investing in us.

As a country, we continue to face many challenges; challenges of corruption, job creation, national cohesion, democratization and delivery of high standards of living for our citizens particularly in critical areas like health, education and infrastructure.

But I believe we are on the path to turning the corner on these challenges. We are on the path to rallying our citizens to jointly confront these challenges without fear and minus the tribal lenses that some would want us to wear.

Nations are judged by how they navigate turbulent and challenging times like the ones we are going through. After a difficult election in 2017 that left the nation on the brink, President Uhuru Kenyatta and I agreed to come together and help this country retrace its steps and stabilize. That get together has been hailed across the world as Kenya’s last second chance. We are determined to make it count.

I want to believe that as a country, we have learnt our lessons and that is why we have retraced our steps and our history through the Building Bridges to the New Kenyan Nation initiative. We are focused on building a resilient democracy that takes into consideration our unique history and current circumstances.

We are focused on creating a society where we can compete for power openly and even disagree strongly but we don’t lose sight of our goals as a nation. There must be a common purpose; some national good we are pursuing as a nation and that we must not allow to be derailed by our wish to be or to look great as individuals.

We are focused on building a society in which when our dreams as individuals appear to be a threat to our collective dream as a nation, we must be prepared to sacrifice those personal dreams. Fighting corruption, tribalism, impunity is a good place to start. We must not let go of the war on these vices. We must not agree to be derailed by the lords of these vices.

To the young men and women gathered here, I wish to assure all of you that as leaders, we are going all out, doing what was once unthinkable and making all necessary sacrifices to address the problems we face and bequeath you a better country.

My friend President Bill Clinton said that if he were to sum up his view of public life, it would come down to… “Are people better off when you quit than when you started? Do children have a brighter future? Are things coming together instead of being torn apart?” I fully subscribe to this view. It is a principle by which I have lived and will continue to embrace.

Many of you here call me Baba, and I accept the title with all humility. I want to assure you that as a father, I am determined to ensure that things work for you, that you have a brighter future and that Kenyans are better off when I quit than when I started. This is the reason we agreed with President Uhuru Kenyatta to put aside everything else and work for Kenya.

To help us realize this dream, I wish to appeal to the youth to aspire to higher ideals that they shall never compromise on for the sake of Kenya. Don’t live in vain. Don’t be a spectator in the affairs of your country. That is the spirit of civil engagement.

Thank you and God bless you.



Remarks of the Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, EGH;High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, 4th PIDA Week 2018
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Eng. Amos Marawa, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Government of Zimbabwe
Executive Secretary Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe
Director-General, Belt and Road Unit, National Development and Reform Commission, the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Xiao Weiming;
Carla Montesi of EU;
Dr Amani Abou-Zeid Commissioner Infrastructure and Energy of AU;
Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD.
Mr. Joel Biggie Matiza – Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development and Transport, Republic of Zimbabwe,
Distinguished guests
Let me begin by thanking my brother Ibrahim and the AU Commission for inviting me to PIDA Week 2018.
This is taking place in one of the World’s greatest natural wonders that also showcases Africa’s potential– the Victoria Falls in the Republic of Zimbabwe.
As you are aware, a few weeks ago, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission His Excellency Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat appointed me to a task that few are called upon to perform; that is, to serve our people and our continent, at a time we are pursuing a 50-year transformational agenda of the “AfricaWeWant” in Agenda 2063.
For this recognition and call to duty as a servant of my Continent, I am most humbled, and thankful, to my brother, the Chairperson.
My task as Infrastructure Champion, is to accelerate our transboundary connectivity through infrastructure.
I therefore call all of you present here today to put hands-on-the-Wheels and we all push in the same direction.
If we all commit to this common cause, our efforts will be realized, sooner rather than later.
Realizing our continent’s development agenda will require fundamental change in behaviour and mind-sets.
It requires taking transformative decisions and being innovative in the way we approach persistent problems.
With regard to infrastructure, these problems include inadequate road and air connectivity with resulting and trade deficits’ which we as a continent, have come to accept as the normal state of affairs.
We live in the digital information age. We must therefore fastrack the unblocking of political bottlenecks for ICT Broadband and Fibre Optic Projects Linking our States. Africa’s children and leadership must be helped to access information at the click of a button or we shall never compete.
In this quest, old habits and old paradigms must give way to well-thoughout initiatives and I am glad we have embarked on this.
I see such a shift in the creation of the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI) – and the HR – High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa Initiative.
For these initiatives to yield results, we must overcome another set of old habits; the habit of perpetual feasibility studies and procurement of consultancies.
We are not inventing the wheel. We have tried and proven delivery mechanisms that we could implennt with modifications to ensure speedy and smart delivery.
These mecahnisms exist within government files. They are also with our private sector partners. They are with our development partners who should be willing to share them with us, hopefully, without conditions or strings attached.
The last thing Africa needs at this point in time is partnership with strings and conditions.
Such smart delivery instruments like Design and Build, Turn-key, Framework Contracting, to name a few, should come in handy for the Continent and help us get out of the trap of feasibility studies.
In implementing the priority Infrastructure flagship projects – we will need to avoid the traditional and long gestation delivery mechanisms that bogs down our public sectors and resort to the market for efficiency, measured and time-bound delivery.
Over the next two (2) years, we will work closely with key stakeholders which include Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), AU Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Transport/ Infrastructure, and Development partners to deliver impactful projects identfied as low hannging fruits.
These include:
Establishment of Joint Corridor Coordinating Authorities – for the efficient management of vital economic arteries, or corridors, of our continent;
Championing the ratification of Inter-Governmental Agreements (IGAs) for the development of the Trans African Highways, Missing links; and the adoption of the Minimum Technical Norms and Standards by AU member countries, for the development and maintenance of the Trans African Highways;
Championing the establishment of lead National and Regional Agencies on Road Safety, as recommended by the AU-Specialized Technical Committee (STC) for Transport and Infrastructure, to give impetus to the realization of the “African Decade Programme on Road Safety (2011-2020)”.

We recognise the need for equitable and balanced development opportunities amongst the Trans African Corridors, in the course of implementing the high level Infrastructure Championing Initiative.
We will therefore include as part of our Projects Selection Criteria for the upgrading of the TAH missing links – “peace dividend project-awards”, to foot-print countries and RECs, along key under-developed TAH corridors.
Africa’s transformation, as outlined in Agenda 2063 – will require “agents of change”, or projects of monumental scale, to trigger, and give impetus, to the social and economic transformation programme of Agenda 2063.
For instance, given the present global re-positioning economic order, Africa will have to define, and finance its own equivalent of Inter-State and Pan-American Higways or Belt and Road initiative to reinforce the continent’s key flagship drivers: African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
We must explore new frontiers of connectivity. The opening of what we call The African Belt Way, that is the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project, connecting the eastern and western-central Africa deep-sea ports of Lamu, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic at Douala in Cameroon, will need to be scoped and tabled for turn-key development.
We will champion the Continental High Speed Freight Railway Project and advance its implementation. This is an important “change-agent”, with positive impact for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
We will pursue high level advocacy with member states to implement the Prioritized Action Plan (2018-2019) with regard to realisation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
This will help us fast track the full liberalization of the air transport market in Africa in terms of market access, frequency allocation, tariffs, and the granting of traffic “freedom” rights – all geared towards, easing “doing business”, and travelling within, and outside Africa.
In conclusion Ladies and gentlemen, the task at hand is an enormous. I have no illusions about this and I believe none of us have.
What I do know however, is that, it is doable… if all of us push in the same direction.
I therefore count on all of you my fellow Africans, and friends of Africa, to join me – to see the dreams of our founding fathers and aspirations of our children and grandchildren fulfilled, for a better and inclusive Africa.
I thank you for your attention.
Hon. Raila Odinga,
High Representative-Champion for Infrastructure Development in Africa
23 November 2018



Ladies and Gentlemen;
Kenya is a proud and prominent member of the UN family.
We value our partnership with the UN and we take keen interest in the security, comfort and progress of the UN staff in Nairobi because we remain extremely proud that we host the only UN post outside the developed world. And I want to believe that the UN in Nairobi equally sees itself as a proud and prominent member of the Kenya family; that the staff daily dig deep into their reservoirs of resolve and determine to do good and make a difference that strengthens the concept of the global family and the shared opportunities and challenges that the UN represents.
That is why I felt compelled to be here this morning despite pressing engagements that am to attend to shortly outside Nairobi.
I am therefore very proud and pleased to preside at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Green Zone Residential Apartments Housing Project for UN-Habitat staff.
We fully welcome the efforts of the UN-Habitat to contribute to the alleviation of the housing crisis in Kenya by providing adequate, affordable and secure housing for its staff in Nairobi through their savings.
I want to thank UN-Habitat for the professionalism and diligence that has seen it encourage staff to save and diligently watch over those savings, leading to this multi-billion shillings project. Many employers wish to achieve this milestone but never really do.
This initiative will ensures the staff, who contribute immensely to Kenya’s economy, security and our global standing feel appreciated and facilitated to continue serving Kenya and the world.
And as has been observed, with this project, the UN Habitat is contributing directly to the realisation of the housing component of the Big Four agenda of the Government of Kenya.
The UN Habitat has long been a trusted partner in this critical area of housing. Together, we worked on the Kibera Slum Upgrading Programme during the Grand Coalition Government that saw parts of the massive slum give way to modern and affordable residential apartments. Incomplete as it is, the Kibera Slum Upgrading Programme is testimony of what we can do together with correct partnership and political will. We want this partnership to continue and to expand.
It remains our dream that together with UN-Habitat, we will eradicate slums across Kenya and replace them with modern and affordable houses within the period of our national development blue print of Vision 2030. Strengthening and deepening cooperation with UN-Habitat is critical. This is because while the Constitution of Kenya is explicit that every Kenyan has a right to accessible and adequate housing, and to reasonable standards of sanitation, the reality remains that Kenya, like many other Third World countries, has a massive housing gap.
Yet like all other African countries, Kenya is experiencing rapid urbanization and a bulging young population.
UN Habitat has informed us that half of humanity, a total of 3.5 billion, already live in cities and that by 2030, almost 60 per cent of the world’s population; including Africa’s will live in urban areas.
Kenya’s population between the age of 15 and 64 is expected to hit 45 million by 2035.
We already know how the young population will be making decisions on where and how they will live: they are coming to the cities and other urban centres. UN-Habitat has warned us about that.
Yet according to the 2013 Housing Survey, Kenya will have a deficit of about 2 million houses over the next 10 years but that is only if the population remains static, and we know it will not.
The deficit will therefore be larger, unless we act now. This reality has real and clear implication for housing.
It is a two-dimension crisis. First, it is a crisis of a young and vibrant workforce coming into the cities and who will need housing affordable and decent housing. Yet the towns they are coming to already have too few houses.
Secondly, the cities that are attracting new immigrants already have droves of dwellers who cannot afford or find decent affordable housing.
The result has been and will be obvious; the creation and proliferation of new slums.
Now more than ever before, we need partnerships; with the UN, with the Private Sector and with all employers so we can help house our people today and well into the future.
We need more players to commit to work directly with the government in financing housing projects in Kenya or to alleviate the problem by investing in provision of housing for employees.
We need partnerships that will enable Kenyans access mortgages to buy or build own houses.
With housing identified as a key national development agenda, policies are being put in place to bolster the financial architecture of Kenya’s housing market.
The policies should ensure partnerships for primary housing supply, primary mortgage lending and lines of credit to financial institutions for the promotion of access to decent and affordable housing.
Although our primary focus is urban housing, we must not end here.
The time has come for Kenya and Africa to go beyond cities and towns with regard to housing and move into rural areas where housing patterns is crippling other land uses and inhibiting economic growth.
With UN-Habitat, we can plan better our rural areas to ensure sustainable housing that does not interfere with other land uses for economic gain while at the same time ensuring that even rural populations have well designed housing with commensurate sanitation.
Finally, I notice that the housing units we are launching today belong to the Habitat Housing Co-operative Society. This is a manifestation of the power of cooperative pooling of resources and saving. It is my hope that UN-Habitat can encourage such a culture among other employers in Kenya to enable employees provide own houses for themselves and other needy Kenyans.
Thank you.

Public Lecture at Duke University

Public Lecture at Duke University

Africa: A Time for Sustained Optimism?
Public Lecture by Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, EGH.
Duke University
October 23, 2018

It is always a great pleasure and honor to speak in a prestigious academic institution. It gives me an opportunity to share my vision of Africa with the next generations of leaders across the globe.
This is a vision I have developed through decades of struggle for democracy, justice and pursuit of equality and prosperity for all Africans.

These interactions also provide time for reflection away from the constant hassle of politics at home. As you well know, politics is rewarding to the extent that it makes nations great. But at times, it can also be extremely brutal both to the politician and the nation.
I therefore like listening to both accomplished and aspiring scholars to enrich my thoughts on the way forward for my country, Kenya and for Africa and I must admit I have benefitted immensely from these engagements and I know the experience in Duke can only make the experience better.

I thank the Duke University, and my host, Dr. Giovanni Zelnada, the Director of the Duke Center for International and Global studies, for this opportunity.
Today, I will argue that an African Miracle is possible. It is slowly but steadily taking shape as the continent addresses the critical issues that have held it back.

I do not use the term, “miracle”, lightly. The World Bank assembled a group of most prominent economists and constituted the Commission on Growth and Development in 2006. The team reported that since 1950, only 13 countries sustained economic growth at 7 percent or higher for 25 years. These 13 countries are all from East Asia, except a few, that include Brazil and, importantly, Botswana.
The Commission reports that “some people view these cases as ‘economic miracles,’ events impossible to explain and unlikely to be repeated.”

I am adhering to the same high standard of a miracle when I state that an African miracle is possible.
Many of you might find my view puzzling. After all, globalization, that fueled economic growth over the last seven decades, appears to be ending.
The principle of multilateralism, that underpins the current world economic order, is also under attack.
And Democracy, that in my view underwrites long-term social and economic stability, appears to be in retreat worldwide.

There have been some setbacks in Africa too.
According to a report of Credit Suisse, Africa’s share of world wealth is not even 1 per cent.
Wealth per household in Africa actually fell by 1.9 per cent from 2016 to 2017 whereas it rose by 8.8 per cent here in North America.
It is hard to imagine that an economic regime that allows such monstrous inequality can be sustained. It will surely cause a populist revolt in one form or another. Migration from Africa to Europe is a manifestation of such tension.

So you may ask, what is then the source of this Afro-optimism amid such global pessimism? You may also say “we heard this African miracle story about 15 years ago. But it proved short-lived.”
And you are actually right to doubt. The collapse of commodity boom revealed that Africa is still vulnerable to a downturn of commodity prices.

I am aware that the Asian miracle was driven by exports of manufactured goods to open and growing markets in Europe, U.S. and Japan. Such a favorable environment does not exist today. Manufacturing in Africa has actually been declining by 2 per cent annually. Some say that as China upgrades its economic structure, a huge room will be left open for basic light manufacturing for Africa.
But even if it does, I doubt that low value products can be a basis for closing the huge gap between Africa and the developed and emerging economies.
Therefore, we will not create an African miracle by emulating the East Asian model. I envision that our own African growth model will drive an African miracle. Sustained high economic growth in the continent will be driven by African unity and political and economic integration.

I am not advocating an inward-looking protectionist policy here. I am aware that such policy failed in Latin America decades ago.
African markets will remain open to every country in the world. Indeed, we will promote free and fair trade. But, the main driver will be the growth of African markets. Let me give you an example.
In Africa, intra-continental travelers are often bound to illogical and time-consuming routes via Europe and the Middle East when flying between African countries. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) projects that if just 12 key African countries opened their markets and increased intra-continent connectivity, an extra 155,000 jobs and US$1.3 billion in annual GDP would be created in those countries.

In January this year, the African Union (AU) launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to transform intra-African air travel, lower costs and increase connectivity.
Under the SAATM, African countries have already relaxed visa restrictions for African citizens. We also launched an African Union Passport for heads of states and senior officials in 2006, and we plan to distribute it to all Africans by 2020.

Let me underscore that the SAATM is only one of several components of Agenda 2063 whose guiding vision is the creation of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in international arena.”
I, like many African leaders, fully subscribe to this Vision.
As you know, Africa’s intra-regional trade is very small. In 2016, intra-African exports made up only 18 percent of total exports of African countries. This compares poorly to 59 per cent for intra-Asia and 69 per cent for intra-Europe exports. The figures for imports are similar.

In 2017, intra-regional exports of sub-Saharan Africa amounted to only $68.8 billion. The continent’s GDP was $1,648.8 billion. So, intra-regional exports were a pitiful 4.17 per cent of GDP.
If we triple intra-regional exports, we can increase the continent’s GDP by more than 8 percentage points. This will go a long way to achieve a 7 per cent economic growth.
In March this year, 44 African nations signed the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) under which the nations commit to cut tariffs on 90 percent of goods.
This is a big progress considering that there have been multitudes of overlapping sub-regional trade agreements and customs unions. CFTA now creates geographically the largest free trade zone in the global economy.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) projects that the simplification of border controls and the drops in duties and other costs will boost intra-regional trade by 52 per cent in five years. We still have work to do at the highest political level to complete CFTA.
Eleven (11) African nations have yet to sign the agreement, and this includes the continent’s two largest economies, i.e., South Africa and Nigeria. But I am confident that both countries will come on board as they regain sound economic footing following the next elections – Nigeria in early 2019 and South Africa in 2020.

The political will and determination to fully implement the CFTA exists. Once implemented, it will be the catalyst that moves the region toward high levels of intra-regional trade.
The foundation for development lies in a well-educated and healthy cadre of human beings. Africa’s population is young and growing fastest in the world.
In the coming decades, Africa’s population will double to some two billion people, and many of them will be under 18. This could bring tremendous opportunities for economic growth. Young Africans are tremendously entrepreneurial, talented and dynamic.

These young Africans could harness new technologies and ignite a new dynamism for growth but only if they are well educated, trained and healthy. Here too, Africa is making a major stride.

The working age population (age 15 – 64), who either had no formal education at all or did not complete primary school, declined from nearly 90 per cent in 1960 to less than 50 per cent in 2010. The working age population with primary and secondary education completed rose from about 10 per cent to more than 40 per cent over the same period.

Granted that the quality of education, particularly in the primary and secondary levels is unsatisfactory. Also, too many young children grow stunted because of inadequate care and nutrition during their first 1000 days of life.
We, African leaders, are now keenly aware of these challenges. It will take time, given limited financial resources and qualified teachers available. But, in a decade or two, you will see major progress in overcoming the challenges of quality of education and care in early childhood too.

We will harness diversity in careers and jobs. We will encourage entrepreneurship, arts and sports. We will encourage venture capital.
Realizing an African miracle, i.e., sustaining economic growth at 7 per cent per year, of course requires investment. The World Bank, IMF, World Economic Forum and our American friends have been telling us to implement reforms to make it easier to do business.

Many African countries have made important reforms to do so and I am sure that other African countries will follow.
But, is this how China and India have succeeded in attracting huge amounts of foreign investment? I hear that having a very large market – and expectations of an even bigger market – and a well-educated and disciplined labor force is the key to attract investment.
This is exactly what we are doing in Africa through the establishment of a pan African common market with strong regional infrastructure and through our commitment to education.

Our commitment to education includes higher education, in particular in science and technology. This requires the transfer of science and technology from the West, including from universities.
I therefore support strong collaboration between universities in the U.S. and our counterparts in Africa.
Africa should not be forever destined to be an exporter of unprocessed mineral and agricultural resources. We need money and technology for value-addition of our resources. This will be the basis for industrialization of the African continent.

I said earlier that intra-continental trade will be a major driver of economic growth in Africa. I am aware that people cannot trade unless huge infrastructure deficits in the continents are addressed. It is estimated that the cost of transport in Africa is on average 50-175 per cent higher than other parts of the world.

Let me repeat. The insufficient infrastructure networks across the continent have limited cross-border flows of trade, capital, information, and people. It has drastically affected Africa’s growth and broader development performance and regional integration. Improving land transportation is an imperative to development.

That is why last week; I accepted the appointment by the Africa Union Commission as High Representative for Infrastructure Development Championing to spearhead the modernization and upgrading of selected Trans African Highway Corridors and their missing links.
One of my main tasks will be to garner political buy in and ownership of member states as well as ownership of regional economic communities.

I strongly believe that the existence of a reliable infrastructure of roads and railways, running North to South, East to West of Africa, is critical to opening up the Continent and making it the gateway to the 21st century. You must have heard of the Trans-African Highway; the hugely ambitious, grand project, launched in 1971.

It is a network of nine highways which, when connected, will cover a combined total of 60,000 kilometers across the continent. One of them will stretch 8,000 kilometers between Cairo and Dakar; another for 8,000 kilometers between Cairo and Cape Town; a third for 6,000 kilometers between Lagos and Mombasa; and a fourth for 4,700 kilometers between Dakar and Lagos.
Only one of nine highways has been completed so far. That is the Trans-Sahelian Highway, which runs 4,500 kilometers between Dakar in Senegal and N’Djamena in Chad. Although the others are only partially finished, countries are progressively opening them section-by-section. It is just one example of what we plan to complete.

There are also gigantic steps forward in rail transport as the new vision of Africa takes shape.
One of those steps is a modern rail line between Ethiopia and Djibouti that has recently been opened.
Another big project is the East African Rail Master Plan. This is a proposal to rejuvenate lines among Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Ethiopia. It is estimated to cost $13.8 billion.
The first section was inaugurated in June this year, covering Nairobi and Mombasa.
With the support of all the relevant institutions and offices of the AU Commission and the Continent’s partners, I will make full use of my position as the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development to push Africa closer to the realization of the dreams of our founding fathers.
Our founding fathers envisaged a united and interconnected Continent that enjoys easy movement of goods and its citizens.

As we build strong infrastructure and human capital, I am confident that Africa will accelerate and sustain higher economic growth. But, growth that enriches only the rich is not what we want. We must ensure lasting peace and stability, that requires shared prosperity.

One of the biggest threats to the shared prosperity is Corruption.
I accept that it has been difficult to fight corruption on the continent. I admit that even in Kenya, where I have joined President Kenyatta in waging a campaign against corruption, many remain skeptical. But I see a turning point. Now, in most African countries, people’s voice can no longer be ignored.

My friend, President John Magufuli of Tanzania, won the election for the ruling CCM party, riding on the wave of public discontent about corruption and he has since made huge gains toward eradicating the crime.
In Kenya too, we have taken strong actions against corruption, and will continue to do so. Our actions are having a strong positive impact.

Alongside fighting corruption, we must renew faith in democracy. As a true and strong believer in democracy, I urge Europe and U.S. not to forsake the democratic values and sanctity of human right for the sake of partnership in anti-terrorism or for interest of their own private businesses.
Democracy will enable our people to believe in policies and ideologies instead of ethnic affiliation, or what we call “negative ethnicity”.

Kenya nearly broke apart in 2007-2008 because of ethnic driven politics. The country was on an edge once again following the last election in 2017.
Kenyans are now saying ‘we cannot continue living like this. We can’t continue living as Kikuyus, Luos, Kalenjins, Luhyas, Kisii, miji Kenda, etc.” It has to stop. Tanzanians have done it right from independence to date. It is Kenya’s turn to do it.
When I sat down with my partner in the Grand Coalition Government former President Mwai Kibaki a few months ago, he was struggling to understand why Africans go to international forums, talk boldly and loudly about continental unity, then go back home and start fighting tribe against another. It is curious and puzzling indeed.

I sat down with President Kenyatta and agreed to launch a new journey, to a new Kenya; a Kenya where elections are not civil wars, where winners and losers embrace and where corruption is not a way of life. We also agreed to set up a taskforce to deal with issues we identified to be holding the country and to prevent their recurrence in future.

And we will be urging other African leaders to follow our example. We need your support as leaders in academia and as diaspora. We need America’s support by standing up for, not against the ideals of democracy.
Then we will deliver the African dream, which will propel the world into a better and more prosperous and secure 21st century.
For all my life, I have been a Pan-Africanist and an Afro-optimist. My Afro-optimism never waiver. It remains stronger today than ever before.
Thank you.

Appointment as AU Representative

Appointment as AU Representative


Hon Raila Odinga wishes to thank the African Union Commission and the chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat for the appointment to the position of High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa earlier today.

Hon. Odinga regards the appointment as a great honour that he is ready to take up with dedication and humility, well aware of the challenges that come with it.

Hon Odinga further expresses deep appreciation to President Uhuru Kenyatta for the support and promises to do all in his power towards the realisation of the pan-African agenda that he and the president are passionate about.

Mr Odinga considers infrastructure, particularly roads and railways, running North to South, East to West of Africa, critical to opening up the Continent and making it the gateway to the 21st century.

With the support of all the relevant institutions and offices of the AU Commission and the Continent’s partners that he promises to work closely with, Hon Odinga promises to use the position to push Africa closer to the realisation of the dreams of its founding fathers who envisaged a united and interconnected Continent that enjoys easy movement of goods and its citizens.
Dennis Onyango
October 20, 2018.

Met AU Commission Chair

Met AU Commission Chair

Addis Ababa;
October 18, 2018

H.E Raila Odinga has held talks with the chairperson of the African Union Commission Mr Moussa Faki.

The Wednesday evening talks on the Africa 2063 agenda took place at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Mr Odinga was accompanied by Kenya’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti who is also Permanent Representative to AU, IGAD and UNECA Ms Catherine Muigai Mwangi.

Mr Odinga flew to Ethiopia from Nairobi on Wednesday afternoon for the meeting with the AU Commission chairperson. Mr Odinga returned to Nairobi from China on Tuesday evening.

He returns to Nairobi from Ethiopia early Thursday.
Dennis Onyango
October 18, 2018.