Welcome Remarks by Hon. Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya, EGH, MP, Minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 during the three days workshop on Ã¢â‚¬Å“One Kenya, One Dream: The Kenya We WantÃ¢â‚¬Â, held at the Jomo Kenyatta International Conference Centre, 4th to 6th February, 2009.
Your Exellency, the President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Hon. Mwai Kibaki,
The Rt. Honourable, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya, Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga,
Your Excellency, the Vice President of Kenya, Hon. Kalonzo Musyoka,
Your Excellency, Retired President, Hon. Daniel Arap Moi,
Fellow Ministers ,
Members of Parliament,
Permanent Secretaries and Senior Government Officers,
Excellencies Ambassadors and Head of Missions,
Representatives of Development Partner Agencies,
Representatives from the Private Sector, Civil Society and Faith Based Organisations,
All Protocols observed,
Ladies and Gentlemen: First and foremost, I would like to begin by thanking the Almighty God for enabling us to meet here today. Since most of us are meeting for the first time this year, please allow me to seize this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year. We beseech the Almighty to bless our country throughout 2009.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to this great conference, titled Ã¢â‚¬Å“One Kenya, One Dream, The Kenya We WantÃ¢â‚¬Â. As many of you are already aware, the Office of the Prime Minister in collaboration with the Ministry of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 have been coordinating the processes for hosting this conference. We have also had the support of the Office of the President and other Ministries. A lot of thought and hard work have gone into organising this conference by officers from all these ministries. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the officers who worked so hard to ensure that this conference takes place. We also involved the non-state actors and the private sector. I thank them for their contribution too. The organising committee received useful inputs from all over the country and I am happy that we have come this far to hold the conference today.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: Let me at this earliest opportunity also sincerely thank H.E the President, The Rt. Honourable, Prime Minister, the Vice President and indeed the entire cabinet for taking time to review the objectives of the conference at the earliest stage and gave their approval and commitment.
The idea of holding this conference emanated from a shared deep concern about how the future of our country, Kenya should be. And this concern was as a result of the post election crisis which threatened to break up our beloved country alongside ethnic lines. The memories of that ugly experience is yet to fade away from our minds.
The experience was saddening, horrifying and one without precedent in the history of Kenya. It is now exactly one year since this happened and many Kenyans have been debating about the cause and solution to the post election crisis. But most importantly, there is not a single Kenyan who wants a repeat of the same in this country ever again. The government has therefore, organised this conference to widen the debate to involve more people and also give us serious proposals of what we need to do in order to avoid any repeat of those events. The idea of the Kenya we want as one people one nation has been debated twice before. The first time was in 1962 just prior to independence. The second time was in 1979 after the death of the founding father of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. This is the third time and we expect the conference this time round to make a difference in our lives.
We are convinced that the proceedings and outcomes of this conference will enrich the social and political pillars of the Vision 2030. As many of you may be aware, the social pillar aims at building a just and cohesive society with social equity while the political pillar is intended to nurture a democratic political system that is issue-based, people centred, results oriented and accountable to the public. What happened after election in December 2007 is evidence that our society was not cohesive enough to hold together after the electoral outcome. The post election crisis experience teaches us that for as long as your politics are not right and the leaders have not inculcated a sense of nationhood and belonging amongst the citizenry, it does not matter how well your economy could be doing. The gains of a strong economy can simply be reversed overnight. TodayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s conference is therefore important in that it provides a platform for all of us within and without to find practical solutions for lasting social cohesion and political stability in our country.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Ministry of Planning has been a key player in charting the path of development since it was created in 1964 under the Late Thomas J. Mboya. We in the Ministry are as committed to re-making Kenya as he and the founding fathers did. We wish to ensure that there is conducive environment for sustainable peace, social progress and development. When we attainend independence in 1963, political freedom was not the only issue but also the enabling condition for gradual building up a Kenya without hatred and discrimination with ever increasing number of its members free to devote themselves more to cutivation of things of the mind and spirits to have happiness of a full life.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: Although the tasks immediately before us are different from those of independence, we in the Planning Ministry are sure that we can have today a national resurgence comparable to that which followed in 1963 (immediately after independence), 1979 (when the nation came together to mourn the death of the founding father of this nation) and 2003 (when the NARC Government took over on the wave of change and Kenyans were then rated as the most optimistic people in the world). We can have our people re-united again as a family, as a nation of brothers and sisters each working in industrial harmony not for him or herself but for the good of all. And we can plan for our nation on that basis.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: To plan forward, we must recall that Kenya has for long been an example of a peaceful nation in Africa. It is our national pride in that stability and the wish to retain that, that has brought so many ordinary Kenyans here today. It is in the same vein that we have also invited many Kenyan dignitaries and experts and also asked statesmen and women from other countries to join us in this conference today. As we think about what kind of country we want for ourselves, our children and their children, let us recall that we have along history as one people. As you will note from the programme, we have invited leaders and experts who have experience in dealing with internal conflicts and how they are resolved to lead discussion panels. And we also have among us kenyans who are patrotic, many of whom were there when the Kenya flag was being hoisted on that December 12, 1963.
As we were organizing this conference, we identified speakers and suitable raporteaurs for each session to take down the deliberations which we will use to produce a comprehensive report of the conference to be shared with all of you and the citizenry of this country through to the grassroots. The opinions and recommendations will inform other important events like the new constitution making, the establishment of the Justice and Reconciliation commision, the planning and budgetary processes.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: As I conclude my remarks, let me set the tone for the conference by reiterating once more that this conference is about the Kenya we want and the big question is what are those things that we must do or adhere to in order to realise this dream. The conference has indeed availed to us a rear opportunity to speak openly about what we want for our country. Kenya needs to achieve social cohesion at all cost. We cannot develop this country unless we move together as one people. You will recall that just before the post election crisis, the economy had registered a GDP growth rate of 7 per cent. The economy is now growing at bout 4 per cent. All the gains of the five year recovery were eroded just in a span of one month due to the violence and other external economic shocks.
Currently, we have projected the economy to grow to 10 per cent in four years and sustain it at that level through to 2030. It cannot be possible unless we have political stability and social cohesion. As Kenyans we have no choice but to work towards building a stable Kenya where the Vision 2030 ideas can be achieved.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: Since my job was simply to welcome all the delegates and to set the tone of the conference, I wish to take this opportunity to thank all of you once again for turning up for this conference and wish you lively debates. Lastly, let me humbly submit that for us to avoid what happened in December 2007 and leave peacefully in this country, we should always be patient with one another, be tolerant, understanding and do all those things which are necessary for people who live together and do nothing out of hatred. I hope the outcome of this conference will change Kenya forever and for the better. Let us build the Kenya we Want together.
Thank You for your kind attention.