President Uhuru Kenyatta has said African countries have the capacity to determine their infrastructure needs.
He said African countries understand the priorities of their people and should not be dictated upon on what infrastructure projects to implement. “Please we know what we need, we know what we must do. We are no longer going to be the dumping ground for products and goods while our people have no jobs, while our people suffer in poverty,” President Kenyatta said.
Responding to an article in the Economist that cited World Bank criticising Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway as uneconomical, President Kenyatta said Kenya is best place to know the projects that have direct impact on its people.
The President spoke on Monday during the State House infrastructure summit at State House, Nairobi.
The televised Summit was organised by the President’s Communications team, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the Presidential Delivery Unit and follows on similar meeting on Energy that was held two weeks ago.
President Kenyatta pointed out that similar criticism was directed to the so-called Asian Tigers but they ignored it and now they are amongst the fastest growing nations in the world.
“I just want to pose a question to those who challenge us as a country and as a continent where are those nations today,” President Kenyatta said.
He added: “The now fully grown Asian Tigers are probably among the most prosperous nations in the world. Yet they ignored the World Bank and ignored the IMF. Today they actually have their own development bank.”
The Head of State said Kenya is keen to move to the next level and this can only be achieved if the country makes appropriate investments in infrastructure.
President Kenyatta welcomed the summit, saying it provided a platform for positive engagement between Government, private sector and the people of Kenya on what is happening in the infrastructure sector. “This is part and parcel of being transparent, being open and allowing Kenyans an opportunity to engage with their Government and various agencies on what is being done with their money,” President Kenyatta said.
He said: “The only way we can know we are doing the right thing or not is through an engagement such as this.”
Saying infrastructure projects are expensive ventures, the President emphasised that those in charge must ensure prudent utilisation of resources in the sector.
On efficiency at the Mombasa Port, President Kenyatta directed the newly appointed Managing Director, Catherine Mturi, to rid the institution of corruption to ensure its smooth operations.
The Summit attracted over 156.4 million online impression, with over 16 million reach. Speaking at the Summit, Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia assured that the Government’s road annuity program is on course.
The Cabinet Secretary said by the end of the year construction of 7000 kilometres of roads will be underway.
Other speakers included Matatu Owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai, and Engineer Kariuki Muchemi of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance among others.