REMARKS OF RT. HON RAILA ODINGA, EGH FORMER PRIME MINISTER AND AU HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA DURING THE KENYA NATIONAL TRADE WEEK

REMARKS OF RT. HON RAILA ODINGA, EGH FORMER PRIME MINISTER AND AU HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA DURING THE KENYA NATIONAL TRADE WEEK

REMARKS OF RT. HON RAILA ODINGA, EGH FORMER PRIME MINISTER AND AU HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA DURING THE KENYA NATIONAL TRADE WEEK AND 21ST COMESA SUMMIT ON 25TH JULY, 2019:
Your Excellency, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.
Honorable Ministers,
Distinguish Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
As a country, we subscribe, fully, to the idea that what we need, and what Africa needs, is more trade instead of aid.
We further subscribe fully to the idea that the biggest markets for our goods and services are often right next door; in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC before we turn our eyes across the oceans.
That is why I have been happy to see Kenya become among the first countries to deposit instruments of ratification for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).
It is the reason we were happy to see the government come up strongly against statements that implied we could be having problems with our neighbours doing business here in Nairobi.
With that, we signaled to the rest of the AU member states that Kenya stands for the integration of this Continent and that there is no better way to do it than through trade.
This country was founded on thinking big and looking beyond our borders to achieve greater prosperity.
Kenya was founded on the premise that our progress is tied to the progress of the rest of our brothers and sisters across the Continent.
We must not renege on that hallowed foundation.
What we need as a country to prosper in the emerging regional and continental trade and business regime are reliable and predictable policies and laws, greater connectivity, creativity and productivity.
We will prosper by building bridges and ties with neighbours, not walls and creating blockades.
As a country, we have made important reforms to attract investment. We need to constantly probe our systems, make improvements and make it easier to start and do business here.
We need to constantly probe our regional economic communities and ensure we modernize our customs and border crossings to global standards with a view to promoting intra-Africa trade.
I am happy the ministry of trade and relevant government and regional agencies are working to this end.
As a country, we must position ourselves as the hub and the champion of the continental trade initiative in the region.
To achieve this, we must enhance our capacity for value addition and export.
That means upping our game with regard to manufacturing.
We must also address the cross-cutting issues identified.
In particular, we must invest in infrastructure of Energy, Roads, Railways, Airways and Internet Connectivity.
Meaningful trade, especially inter-country, cannot happen without the appropriate infrastructure.
And we must invest in political stability without which all these other investments count for nothing.
Finally, we must conquer that all time enemy of progress: the cancer of corruption that is stealing the billions. These are billions we borrow or raise from taxes to create jobs and build hospitals and schools and which some people divert into own pockets.
Foreigners will not help us end corruption. We will have to stand up ourselves against people who trade in corruption and ask them to please give our country a chance to grow.
We will do by standing with the government when it acts on corruption instead of feeling sorry for the corrupt thief.
Am glad this country is taking the lead in all these areas; building political stability locally, championing trade, investing in manufacturing and declaring war on corruption. We must stay the course.
Thank you.

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