Monday, July 26, 2010

Will Kenya achieve food security?

Kenya seems to be on the right path of making sure we achieve food security and that we meet some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) such as reducing the number of people living below poverty lines to less than 25% by 2015 and reducing the food insecurity by 30%.

The Kenyan government has adopted the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) to be the overall national policy document to guide the sector ministries and all stakeholders in Agriculture. This document will be replacing the Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture (SRA) which has been in force from 2004 to date (2010).

Some of the success of SRA was the adoption of farming as an enterprise mantra aka 'Kilimo biashara'. This saw policy makers selling the idea of farming as a viable business enterprise to farmers and a good enterprise for that matter. The success of this policy has seen a mind change in farmers attitudes about practicing agriculture from subsistence farming to commercial enterprise farming.

The new strategy has also taken into account the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) that recognizes agricultural's contribution to accelerated economic growth in Africa and that will require the finance ministry to allocate the Agricultural ministries 10% of the national budget from the current 8%. The signing of CAADP will also allow the country to access funding from the World Bank to finance this sector.
Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) work falls under 4 pillars.
These are:

  1. Land & water management
  2. Market access
  3. Food supply & hunger
  4. Agricultural research 
Perhaps what is left is establishment of a strong Monitoring and Evaluation team to access the impact of this new policy plus check that the funding streams into this sector are well used. Furthermore, an operational data collecting entity to track the growth on the ground. 

Useful links:

  1. Kenya eyes food security status
  2. Kibaki launches agricultural development strategy
  3. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) website
  4. ASCU-Kenya website
  5. Ministry of Agriculture (kilimo) website
  6. European Union to finance agricultural programmes in Kenya
  7. President Kibaki launches Kenya Agricultural Sector Development Strategy(ASDS)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I came across this article on Foreign Policy the truth about Africom by Vice Adm. Robert Moeller, former first dep. to the commander for military operations, U.S. Africa Command.
This should make an interesting reading for those who wish to understand how US engages Africa.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme

How do you help rural people overcome poverty?
Well, IFAD seems to have a to have struck the right notes in this sphere of eradication of poverty through the Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme (SDCP).


Recently, I was on the field on Impact Assessment Survey of this program and I saw for myself how this programme has had a transformational change on the ground.
Farmers are empowered with skills on how to raise grade cows (gradually removing the old local breeds from their herds) which in turn provide continuous inflows to households and thus empowering households.
Previous Local/Indigenous herds kept

Replacement with English breeds

IFAD has been able to achieve this success through positive collaboration with Ministry of Livestock Development.
Vehicles belonging to extension officers

The roads now are the only stumbling block

Below are some of the pictures captured in the field:
Farmers are taught how to conserve fodder

Some of the fodders planted as a result of intensive training: 

Value Addition and Marketing:

Milk bar

Other Energy Conservation Aspects of this Project:

Bio-gas Production for the farmers

Technology Innovations at the farms

Bio gas Production at one of the farms visited

Useful Links:

  1. Ministry of livestock SDCP page
  2. IFAD projects website with facts and figures of the project
  3. Ifadkenya project page

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Launch of the 6th National Human Development Report (NHDR)

In carrying out my duties at the Ministry, I attended the launch of the Kenya National Human Development Report 2009 that took place at Laico Regency, Nairobi. I filed the following report that I am sharing out.

The launch was a well attended event with  Hon. Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya, Minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 being the chief guest, Minister for Youth affairs and Sports, Hon. Prof. Helen Sambili present and Mr. Aenaeas Chuma, UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator, and UNDP Resident Representative gracing the occasion.  
This year’s report focuses on youth and goes by this title; Youth and Human Development: Tapping the Untapped Resource.

The UNDP Resident representative, Mr. Chuma gave the background of Human Development Reports that are celebrating/marking 20 years since inception in 1990. He pointed out that this reports present cutting edge data, diagnosis and policy options on emerging development challenges from human development perspectives as opposed to GDP. They also seek to advocate a holistic human development approach to development and according to him these are

  • Enjoying political freedom and participation

  • Enjoying a decent living

  • Being knowledgeable and enjoying good health

  • Enjoying cultural respect, dignity and cultural freedom

UN Humanitarian & Resident Coordinator, and UNDP Resident Representative, Aeneas Chuma, makes his opening remarks at the launch of the KNHDR 2009
The two Ministers highlighted the 

importance of the youth demographics in

 their respective speeches (
Hon. Wycliffe A. Oparanya speech below

Thereafter Hon. Wycliffe A. Oparanya officially launched the report.
Minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, Hon. Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya, presents the KNHDR 2009 to the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Hon. Prof. Helen Sambili

This report has good statistics but yet to read the whole report. However, here are some of the index to be found in the report:

Measure                                                       Comparative Index
Human Development Index (HDI)                   0.568
Gender Development Index (GDI)                 0.4924
Human Poverty Index (HPI)                                29.1%
Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM)        0.383
Youth Development Index (YDI)                     0.5817

Statement by Hon. Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya, EGH, MP, Minister of State For Planning, National Development And Vision 2030 during the launch of The Sixth National Human Development Report (NHDR) On 30th June 2010, 10.00 AM at Laico Regency Hotel:


Hon. Cabinet colleague, Prof. Hellen Sambili, Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports,
UNDP Resident Representative, Aeneas Chuma,
Permanent Secretaries present,
Economic Planning Secretary,
Senior Government officers,
Invited guests,
Ladies and gentlemen;

It gives me great pleasure to join you today as we launch the Sixth National Human Development Report. The concept of Human Development is based on the understanding that the ultimate purpose of all human activities is enriching people’s lives by enlarging their options and choices. This implies greater access to knowledge and skills, better nutrition and health, enhanced access to basic social services, more secure livelihoods, among others.  These concept recognizes the fact that the society’s real wealth is its people and hence its orientation to people-centred development.
Kenya has prepared five Human Development reports in the past. Their timing has been intermittent while their themes have been changing every other time. Kenya’s first Human Development report was produced in 1999 under the theme “Gender and Human Development”. The second National Human Development Report was produced in 2001 under the theme “Addressing social and economic disparities for Human Development”, while the third human development report produced in 2003 was under the banner theme “Participatory Governance for Human Development”.
The Fourth National Human Development Report of 2005, Linked Industrialization with Human Development whereas the 2006 fifth NHDR focused on “Human Security and Human Development’’.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The theme of the Sixth National Human Development Report is “Youth and Human Development: Tapping the Untapped Resource”. The concerns for youth have for a time now captured international and national attention. This is attested by landmark recognition of issues pertinent to youth in the 1995 World Summit on Youth and a continuing follow-up focus within the changing economic and social environment. The link between youth and development remain relevant today and for the future.
The Government of Kenya identifies the youth as a national priority. Kenya’s Economic blue print  Vision 2030 and its first Medium Term Plan for the period 2008-2012 clearly articulates that for the country to attain its vision of becoming a middle income and prosperous by 2030, it is paramount to put youth concerns in the forefront.
In this regard the 6th National Human Development Report seeks to promote advocacy for human development with the aim of stimulating dialogue on national development strategies and objectives, and to monitor the status of human development by providing facts and figures, which measure progress and pinpoint critical imbalances. This report further focuses on national policy formulation and consensus building among national stakeholders and seeks to inform decision-making in the management of national resources among the public, private and civil society sectors. It is hoped that by contributing to the debate on alternative approaches and helping to develop shared visions, new prospects and strategies will be identified for enhancing national development.
 The key objectives of the NHDR 2009 are to explore the human development concerns of the youth and assess their development challenges faced at all levels as well as identify strategies to address them.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The theme of this report pays tribute to the fact that the majority of Kenyans are young people. The youth aged 15-35 years constitute 36 percent of the total population.  Of this group, 18.3 percent are female and 17.7 percent are male. Currently, the youth account for about 60 percent of the total active labour force.
The youth unemployment estimated at 75 percent in Kenya is a concern, since it is a precursor to increasing poverty. The cause of the growing unemployment is partly attributed to lack of appropriate skills required in the labour industry. In addition, it is also of great concern that a third of all HIV/AIDS patients are young and over 75 percent of new infections are amongst the youth, majority of who are young women.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Young people, today and in the future, will be the principal stakeholders and beneficiaries of the Vision 2030.  Therefore issues affecting young people should be fully integrated and harmonized into every aspect of public policy and across all Ministries and government agencies. Under the Vision 2030, specific policies and interventions are spelt out for implementation to fully develop the youth potential as well as prepare and engage them in socio-economic development.
In order to address the human development concerns and challenges like those facing the youth, the government aims at raising the average annual incomes per person from an estimated USD 650 in 2006 to above USD 992 by 2012; Reducing poverty levels from 45.9 per cent to 28 per cent by 2012; Reducing rural and urban inequality from the current levels of 0.38 and 0.447 to 0.34 and 0.407 respectively over the same period. A major aspiration of Vision 2030 is to raise the Human Development Index (HDI) from the current level of 0.532 to 0.750 by the year 2015.
The key strategic areas of intervention include: capacity building and empowerment to enable youth engage in productive activities, creation of employment opportunities, provision of financial and market linkage support, character molding initiatives and participation in decision making.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Kenyan youth, however, continue to face many challenges which include limited opportunities for educational advancement and technical training, limited opportunities for on job training and employment, high levels of poverty, lack of finance and access to credit, disproportionate exposure to high health and social risks as well as limited opportunities and mechanisms to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
Ladies and Gentlemen:  The Sixth National Human Development Report provides information on four indices namely; Human Development Index (HDI), Human Poverty Index (HPI), Gender Development Index (GDI), Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) and Youth Development Index (YDI). It is notable that this is the first time a YDI has been computed for the country.
According to the National Human Development Report that we are launching today, the Human Development Index (HDI) at the national level is estimated at 0.561, the National average Human Poverty Index (HPI) is given as 29.1, while the Gender Development Index (GDI) at the national level stands at 0.492. The computed Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) is estimated at 0.383. The Youth Development Index (YDI) stands at 0.5817. It is important to note that all these indices exhibit some regional disparities.
It is observed that only a narrow margin exists between the National Youth Development Index at 0.5817 and the National Human Development Index at 0.5610. This correlation can be attributed to the large proportion of youth (36%) in the total population.  In this regard, the goal of Vision 2030 to realise a Human Development Index growth cannot be realised without the Kenya Youth Development Index growing at the same pace.
Ladies and Gentlemen:  The 6th National Human Development Report  supports the fact that a large youth cohort that is typical of the Kenyan population demographic pattern presents an opportunity, especially if the right macroeconomic and labour market policies are set in a manner that can help the economy benefit from the youth bulge. The youth have often demonstrated the ability to contribute to the development process and have the potential that can be nurtured to promote economic progress. To harness their energy, policy initiatives and resources should be targeted and channelled towards tackling development challenges.

Employment or access to income-earning opportunity is recognized as the single most important facet of participation in the economy and the basis for raising standards of living. The report observes that while the economic performance has improved, growth in productive employment and income-generating opportunities have not kept pace with the growth in the labour force especially for the youth who comprise over 60 percent of the labour force.

More emphasis needs to be given to non-conventional employment opportunities such as ICT, music, performing arts and sports. The ICT sector is the fastest growing business segment in Kenya with youth forming the majority of employment. Access to technologies is spreading rapidly and has proven to be an effective tool for development with its ability to foster the sharing of information and opportunities for youth to express their ideas and opinions. ICT provides an opportunity for the youth to contribute to the shared values of transparency, accountability, performance, effectiveness and efficiency. The report recommends that youth be supported to play an important role through ICT and automation of government programs.
The Report further recommends that the youth needs to be nurtured and equipped with literacy, and numeric skills and knowledge in order to steer growth and break the intergenerational spiral of poverty, morbidity, illiteracy and inequality. Literate, numerate skilled and healthy youth is a tremendous asset for development. Unskilled, semi literate, morbid and overly dependent youth on the other hand can be a terrible burden and a drag on national growth and public finances.
Ladies and Gentlemen:  You will all concur with me that for a long time the youth have been left out in key development issues. Their potential and efforts has been under rated and underutilized in the prospects of achieving our goals.  It is now high time that we found ways of channeling these huge potentials in order to realize our goals. I am glad that the report we are launching today has highlighted some areas and recommendations on how these challenges can be addressed.

In the budget of this financial year, 2010/2011 the government has continued to fund the Economic Stimulus Programme that focuses on sectors that will generate maximum benefits as well as protecting the livelihoods of the poor and creating employment for the youth. We expect the youth will take advantage of these opportunities since this will go a long way in reducing unemployment among them.

The Kazi Kwa Vijana (KKV) programme is another programme which the government initiated to create jobs. The project has programmes in all constituencies and is intended to help youth and improve food security.  This will enable the government to push development initiatives at the same time addressing unemployment.
Finally, I urge all of us to inculcate the spirit of collaboration and partnership to give the best to our youth in order to change their status, enable them achieve their dreams, contribute to the development of our country and ultimately change the image of our country.
Ladies and Gentlemen:  I now wish to thank you all for availing yourselves for this important occasion. I also wish to convey my sincere appreciation to UNDP who partnered with my Ministry in coordinating the preparation of the report, the National Technical Committee which steered the preparatory process and all others who contributed in one way or another. This report is an important document for informing the policy formulation and planning process at national, sectoral and devolved levels. I urge all of you to read internalize and utilize the information therein.  And it is now my great pleasure to launch the Sixth National Human Development Report.Thank you.................
Caren Wakoli's Speech (Youth representative)

Minister of State for National Planning and Vision 2030, Hon Wycliffe Oparanya
Minister for Youth Affairs and sports, Hon. Prof. Helen Sambili
UNDP Resident Representative, Aeneas Chuma
Permanent secretaries and other senior government officials
Dignitaries from the Private Sector and the Civil Society

The youth of our great Country

Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to participate in the launch of the 2009 National Human Development Report and l laud the United Nations Development Programme and the Government of Kenya on coming up with a very timely theme “Investing in the Youth and especially the aspect of tapping the untapped Resource.”

True to the theme, the Youth have enormous potential much of which remains untapped! So investment in the Kenyan Youth is definitely the right way in empowering our society.

We may have heard or watched the captivating World Cup theme song, Give me freedom; take me higher! It captures the aspirations of young people in the world to day and I am happy to note that majority of those playing in the on-going World Cup are young people who have exploited their talents to reach an enviable status in society. It’s quite encouraging but the question we must ask is; what percentage of young people are in such positions of affluence and influence? And Secondly, what must society do to enable the youth exploit untapped potential and attain positions of economic and political influence?

The task may seem daunting, but lm encouraged that People through   generations have surmounted the challenges of their times and made it better for subsequent generations and so Yes, we can do it and the 2009 National Human Development Report we are launching today definitely addresses the challenges of our times. The report initiates policy debate on various issues affecting youth development among them the link between Youth development to the broader concept of human development, the potential of youth and introduction of an index for youth development in Kenya.

The challenge faced by the youth is a widely fact acknowledged by many and the report that is being launched today has however not only laid bare this fact with greater detail and analysis, but has also placed the matter in its most awakening context. Consider the rather obvious fact that the youth in Kenya are the majority and most vibrant, if not altogether energetic. One would expect, therefore, that the youth would be currently playing the most significant role in the country’s economic, political and social affairs. But, as we all know, that is not the case and this report has captured this fact better than I could ever do. For starters, the youth face extremely high unemployment rates and thus low participation levels, which means they are not able to exploit their full potential. To put it in another way, youth in Kenya is a valuable resource that is simply wasting away. It is just one of the paradoxes that surround the issue of youth in the country.  

This paradox is also apparent in the report, I must add. In the newly developed Youth Development Index, for instance, Kenya is not doing badly when compared to countries such as Pakistan. This is probably because three things – health, education and income – were considered in this assessment. The literacy levels may be high among the youth and they may also be doing very well health wise – despite the fact that they are the most affected by HIV/AIDS. But the biggest challenge for the youth is employment or income, in this case. Kenya is one of the countries with the highest unemployment rates in the world and the youth are the most affected. It is an issue which we must all try and address even as we launch this report.

It is worth noting that, in Kenya, while the country’s economic performance has improved considerably, to borrow from some aspects of the report, growth in productive employment and income-generating opportunities have not kept pace with growth in the labor force especially for the youth who comprise over 60 percent of the labor force. This suggests that the youth are not benefiting from the economic growth and are thus being left behind as the economy expands.

Part of the solution must begin at the level of education, for useful assessment of education is not just about literacy levels even though Kenya registers high literacy levels, there is an obvious dearth of relevant skills among the youth that can help them in the competitive labour market. The gap between the labour market and training young people receive from numerous institutions has repeatedly been pointed out by employers. It is an issue that we must begin to think of a little more seriously so that we can find ways of redressing this challenge. Some would say the problem is attributable to the lack of a comprehensive policy to provide for youth development, although that is still debatable.

The youth in Kenya yearn for an expansion of their options and choices in life. They desire greater access to knowledge and skills, better nutrition and health, as well as enhanced access to basic social services, and more so secure livelihoods. Thus the 2009 Human Development Report is useful in refocusing the attention of Kenyans on the role and potential of young people in contributing to a brighter future in view of the long-term blueprint of Vision 2030.

Today the desire to exploit the potential of the young people is a global concern. For instance the Youth and Governance Conference held in August 2009 in Accra Ghana noted among other things:
  • Young people as a result of lack of capacity have failed to take their rightful place in governance and hold their representatives accountable for their political promises to empower the youth and actively involve them in positive development initiatives
  • The prevalence of weak structures and poor support mechanisms has contributed to the low rate of youth participation at the community and domestic levels.
  • There is a lack of common representative front for young people to engage government and other key stakeholders on critical decisions that affect them.
  • There is lack of strong political commitment to Youth Development as evidenced by the unwillingness of many African governments to ratify the African youth charter and develop precise and implementable youth policy which will address the many challenges facing the youth of Africa.

These are sad facts and reflect a hostile environment that impedes the empowerment of the youth in the entire African continent. I feel that the only refuge is to implement MDG-2 which calls for Universal Primary Education. High quality-skills based education will enable Kenya manage the youth bulge currently impacting negatively on youth development. Education and skills development is key strategy for empowering the youth, unfortunately Kenyan youth are affected by inadequate and sometimes non-existent educational infrastructure, low teacher motivation, inappropriate curriculum and inconsistency in educational policy formulation. Young people in Kenya additionally lack career counseling and orientation as well as rehabilitation for school drop outs. When young people especially females are not empowered as a result of unemployment and lack of access to education, it leads to sexual indulgence and sometimes exploitation.

Prof. Atukwei Okai speaking during the 2009 African Youth governance conference told the youth: ‘we can only achieve the empowerment of the youth through striving for enlightenment. The path of self empowerment comes through self enlightenment. And we can acquire enlightenment through the pursuit of knowledge, through reading.

The professor went on to say; ‘It is only self enlightenment that can lead to self- knowledge and self-discovery. It is only after this that we gain self-confidence, self-expression and then, self-assertion. These are the demands of the current Knowledge-based and knowledge-driven society. Our key to self-development is through the acquisition and deployment of knowledge. It is only a self-empowered youth who can make a positive difference to Africa’s condition, advancement and destiny’.

It is important to note that Youth Organizations meeting in Bomako in 2005 made a call to African leaders to empower the youth by building their capacity, leadership responsibilities and provide access to information such that they can take up their rightful place as active agents in decision-making and governance. I believe the 2009 Human Development Report we are launching today will go along way in providing a policy framework for youth empowerment in Kenya.

However, the youth must also play their role in this noble exercise and I personally encourage young people in Kenya:
  • That we must conduct ourselves in the spirit of integrity, respect and accountability to win support from stakeholders in the Youth development sectors.
  • We must dig deeper into our creative reserves and pull human and financial resources together to build partnerships and strategic networks to help break the cycle of poverty;
  • We must be patriotic and show positive attitude to work in our chosen careers and avoid nepotism, tribalism and other social vices that bedevil our society.
  • And finally to the youth in Kenya, we must commit themselves to research and study to build our capacity for positive action. To you I say you are the hope of our great nation.

All having been said, I will just share quick thoughts on what in my view is the way forward:

First, this report must serve its purpose well, and should mark the beginning of the much needed decisive step towards the transformation of the plight of the youth. It makes good observations and draws useful recommendations from which the country can benefit immensely. It should not become just another piece of literature.  

Secondly, with the challenges facing the youth, it is important that we begin to look at our learning institutions and try to synchronize their training with the job market demands.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we should as a country begin to open up all aspects of our public sectors for youth participation.

As I come to the end of my statement, I wish to share with you one of my philosophies in life; ‘To leave indelible footprints in the sands of time, you must walk and fall sometimes. And to walk you must not fear the ground you tread on even if it were sinking sand. Issues affecting young people in Africa and in here at home might appear insurmountable, but these are the issues we must begin to interrogate and progressively take action on to make a change in our society. Dr Martin Luther King Junior said, that ‘Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.’ To the government and other stakeholders with a keen interest to seeing an empowered and productive youth in Kenya, just like Dr King, would you take the risk to invest in the youth?

Thank You.
God Bless Kenya.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Thoughts on Vice President Joe Bidens Trip to Kenya

The Vice President of USA Joe Bidens was in Kenya for 3days on his way to the official opening 2010 world cup in South Africa. Among his many things that he had scheduled here in Kenya are meetings with the Kenyan Administration officials where it is said that they talked about many issues such as the issue of Somalia (Pirates), Sudan (Referendum Vote of 2011) and the new constitution vote for Kenya.
However, one thing made some buzz among the young people. That was his speech aka 'town hall meeting'  at the end of his stay here at KICC where he was on a mission to win 'hearts and minds' of young people which am sure he did after having paralyzed Nairobi with his security detail.
However, one will ponder why the Obama administration was carrying out this exercise. Sending a senior official (second in command) after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit last year. Am sure the administration knows that the youth are the biggest segment of Kenya's population (this is through the Survey they sponsor) and they are also aware of the inroads that the Chinese have made into the country. Nevertheless, the speech was quite good with VP Bidens showing what he is made of:
Below is the entire speech which I got from the White House website which will make a good reading:

Biden speaks at KICC

The White House
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release
June 09, 2010

Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden to University Students in Nairobi, Kenya

Kenyatta International Conference Center
Nairobi, Kenya
10:58 A.M. (local)
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Hello, my name is Joe Biden.  I work for Barack Obama.  (Laughter and applause.)
Now, I know no one in Kenya is familiar with Barack Obama, but I can tell you although for years as a United States senator, I had -- I was on a committee called the Foreign Relations Committee, the chairman, and did a lot of work relating to Africa, I hear about Kenya all the time from Barack Obama.  He sends his love to you, not just your love to him.  (Applause.)
And, Wangari, it’s an honor to be with you.  I am very accustomed these days to hanging out with Nobel laureates.  (Laughter.)  I work for one, I get to meet one here, our Secretary of Energy is one -- I am feeling very, very insufficient not having a Nobel Peace Prize.  (Laughter.)  But it’s an honor to be with you, it genuinely is.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.
You are one of the great treasures not only of your country and of the world, but you’re the embodiment -- in my view -- of what I’m going to talk about today, that is the human capital that this great country has to offer.  And you are -- you are one of the great pieces of that capital.  It’s an honor, again, to be with you.
Now, where is Professor Freida Brown, the Vice Chancellor of United States International?  (Applause.)  Freida, professor -- I want you all to know we have caused this beautiful woman a lot of concern.  She has been the main person in making sure that my ability to speak here was made possible.  I want to personally thank you for all the cooperation and all you do.  (Applause.)  Helping organize us at a speech is a very difficult thing to do, and I thank you very much, Professor.
Ladies and gentlemen, students, leaders, and friends -- I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being invited to speak before you all today.  And I thank you for the warm welcome.  And as I said, I bring greetings and love from President Obama.  I will relay to him that you said, send him -- you’re going to send [him] love.  But I want to reiterate, again, he sends his.  He is committed.  He is concerned, and he is deeply involved in the formation of our policy.  And something that -- and he looks forward to the day that he will be able to come and visit as President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)  I’m sure there may not be -- I doubt whether there’s enough room in the country to house everyone who wants to see him when he comes, but he is anxious to come.   

It’s great to be in your beautiful country.  And it’s great to be in front of all of you.  I come here as a representative of the United States to say one thing, one primary message -- the United States stands with you, stands with you on your journey to a secure, free, democratic, and prosperous Kenya.  It’s a journey nearly 50 years in the making. 

On December 12, 1963, 50,000 Kenyans filled the stadium in Nairobi and 200,000 -- 200,000 more -- I can remember, as a college student, watching 200,000 more pack the hillsides around the stadium.  An entire nation’s eyes watched as, at the stroke of midnight, the new Kenyan flag was unfurled for the first time, making Kenya the 34th independent state in Africa.

Earlier that week, American President Lyndon Baines Johnson sent a congratulatory letter to Prime Minister Kenyatta, welcoming Kenya to the family of nations and comparing Kenya’s journey toward independence with that of America’s.  And he said, and I quote, “As our own freedom for all our citizens was proclaimed to the world by our Declaration of Independence, so Kenya’s freedom begins with her declaration of independence today.”

Some 50 years later, the promise of that day still pulses through this country, on the bustling streets of Nairobi, from -- up to Mount Kenya, from the coastal shores of Mombasa to the plains of the Maasai Mara.  Once, the wealth of a nation was defined by the expanse of its land, the size of its population or the strength of its army, the abundance of its natural resources.  But, now, we know -- and you know -- that the true wealth of a nation is found in its human capital, in the skill, ingenuity, and determination of its people.  And by that measure, Kenya -- Kenya is a very wealthy nation.  Indeed, Kenya is a rich nation.

You have no oil.  You have no precious minerals.  But you have built the largest non-oil, non-mineral based economy in sub-Saharan Africa.  You have become -- (applause) -- you have become the hub for the transportation for the goods and people that are -- flow through East Africa.  And you are the financial capital of East Africa. 

Your diplomats have helped solve some of Africa’s most intractable problems.  Your military is small in number, but large in stature, helping to bring stability to Sierra Leone to East Timor.  You’ve produced world-renowned scientists, geneticists, environmentalists, writers, and a Nobel Prize winner.  (Applause.) 

At the heart of this success is a conviction that education -- education has the potential to transform a nation -- seven public universities, over 20 private ones, among the most of any on the continent of Africa; a determination to make primary and secondary education available to all, although there’s a long way to go.  

Americans know first-hand your commitment to education.  Thousands of our citizens have studied in Kenya.  And Kenyans have long been among the largest groups of African students at American universities.  And today, Kenyans are the largest group of African students at American universities.  (Applause.)  And that tradition goes back before your independence.  One of the earliest pioneers was a fellow named Barack Obama Sr., the father of a man who is now the President of the United States of America.

Kenya and Kenyans have much to be proud of.  But the full force of your potential -- as all of you young students know -- has yet to be released.  You face daunting obstacles.  Kenya is situated in a very tough neighborhood.  Somalia’s decades of instability have generated human tragedy and global threats.  We recognize the burden it’s placed on Somalia’s neighbors and the terrible human cost that the Somali people have borne. 

And I want to thank -- I want to thank Kenya for hosting Somali refugees who have come looking for safety and for prosecuting pirates not just in Somali waters, but increasingly in the vast swathes of East African waters.  

Next January, the referendum on the future of southern Sudan envisioned by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement will occur, and it must be credible and it must be peaceful.  Sudan is hurtling toward a monumental decision that demands urgent international attention and preparation.  And far too many of the people in Sudan’s Darfur region continue to live with unacceptable insecurity.  These regional issues are all on your doorstep.  They are felt in your communities.  They are present, real challenges that we must work on together in partnership to address.

The global financial crisis -- generated through no fault of Kenya’s -- dampened your economy, slowing demand for Kenyan goods abroad and lessened the flow of tourists eager to see Kenya’s natural beauty.  Global climate change is not a phenomenon of Kenya’s making, but its consequences affect your forests, your harvests, and your way of life.

Kenya feels the effects of these problems and should, because of your wealth of human capital, be a part of a global solution -- a strong African voice on the international stage.  But that voice has been muted by internal problems -- problems that have held you back from making an even greater contribution.

Too many of your resources have been lost to corruption, and not a single high-level official has ever been held accountable for these crimes.  Too many of your institutions have lost the people’s confidence.  And too many times, Kenya has been divided against itself, torn apart by ethnic tensions, manipulated by leaders who place their own interests above the interests of their country.  Too many young people have found nothing but dead ends as they seek opportunity and the path to a better future.  

The crisis that gripped Kenya in the wake of the 2007 elections revealed just how dangerous these forces can be.  They are dangerous, but they are not immovable.  Change is within your grasp.  And that change will be realized when government is transparent, accountable, and participatory; when corrupt officials are called to account in a court of law, instead of meeting only the indifferent shrug of impunity; when political power changes hands peacefully, but the will of the voters, and those who did not prevail decide -- and decide that their efforts should be moved to constructive opposition; when Kenyans have confidence that the courts and the police are honest, and are committed solely to the pursuit of justice; when the members of the political leadership represent a range, a wide range, of viewpoints reflecting and responding to the needs of Kenyans everywhere.

Your coalition government has agreed to a reform agenda that would bring about the fundamental change that Kenyans are seeking.  If implemented fully, corrupt officials will be finally held accountable.  The judiciary and the police force will place the pursuit of justice above the pursuit of personal gain.  Land rights and ownership will be governed by the rule of law, not by the whims of the powerful.  Kenyan women and girls -- the most untapped resource of this nation and almost every nation in the world -- will be ever better positioned to contribute to their communities and their country at every level.  And a new constitution will put in place a framework to accelerate those reforms, including reducing executive power by building up the checks and balances of your parliament and your judiciary.
Folks, in my experience of 36 years on the world stage, stability ultimately rests on the separation of powers --no power, no branch of government should go unchecked, including presidential power.  The truth is, better governance is not just an end in itself, it is your path to a lasting democratic stability and your ultimate stability.  And, I might add -- presumptuous of me, as an outsider, to say -- it’s the best route to economic prosperity, sparking job creation, opening up opportunity, and improving the way of life for Kenyans everywhere.

As I said earlier, the real strength of Kenya is your human capital.  And you have so much potential, with two-thirds of your citizens under the age of 25 -- two-thirds under the age of 25.  That should be an incredible sense and source of strength that should be mined, that should be nurtured.  But it requires creative and productive outlets for the energy and enthusiasm of the youth in your country.
Putting in place a new constitution and strengthening your institutions and the rule of law will not only unleash the energy of the youth, deepen the roots of your democracy, and ultimately guarantee your security -- it will also further open the door to major American development programs like the Millennium Challenge.  There’s so much more we could do, and want to do, in partnership with you.  It could provide millions of dollars in grant assistance to Kenya that you would know how to use well to build this great nation. 

Reform will also encourage -- and I have -- I have been all over the world in my career.  I promise you, foreign investment depends upon stability, transparency, the rule of law, and the crackdown on corruption.  So if you make these changes, I promise you, new foreign private investment will come in like you’ve never seen and you will have a reinvigorated tourism industry that will exceed the billion dollars it was before the economic crisis.  As I told your President and Prime Minister, who I met with jointly yesterday, Americans -- I can only speak for America, Americans want to do business here.  You have everything that they would want to cooperate and participate here.  They want to travel here.  And if you provide the right climate, they will come -- and not only they, but the rest of the world will come.  You are the keystone to East Africa -- literally, not figuratively -- you are the keystone.

Fostering the kind of change that is at hand is not up to the political elites, it’s up to you.  It’s up to the Kenyan people.  It’s up to each one of you.  As President Obama said, “Africa’s future is up to Africans.”  We can’t dictate it -- nor should we -- but you can, you can.  And it’s virtually unlimited.  Don’t let others determine for you.  Don’t let others determine for Kenya what Kenyans think.  Determine for yourselves the Kenya you actually need.  

Democracies are most effective when people not only vote for them, but embrace their responsibilities under a democratic system -- when they commit to be active citizens, aware citizens, when they participate, when they vote.   

Today, Kenya is having a great national debate about a new constitution.  That debate will culminate in a referendum this August.  The cooperation of [the] President and Prime Minister in support of the constitutional review process is extremely encouraging.  But the ultimate responsibility, the real power, does not rest with them -- it rests with you.  It rests with the people of Kenya.  By your participation, by your vote -- as cynical as you may have become about the process -- by your participation, by your vote, you have before you a singular opportunity to strengthen Kenya’s democratic institutions, none like since the evening at midnight that that flag was unfurled, an opportunity to open up to opportunity to give a new generation new power to help Kenya realize its immense potential.

The United States strongly supports the process of constitutional reform, including providing assistance for voter registration and civic education, so that Kenyans are able to familiarize themselves with the draft constitution your parliament passed and allow you to make informed decisions.  But, let me repeat, this is your decision, your decision alone.  And the people of Kenya must make this choice -- a choice for Kenya by Kenyans.

And as you prepare to write a new history for your nation, resist those who try to divide you based on ethnicity or religion or region -- and above all, fear is a tool as old as mankind, and it’s been used with great effect in this country in the past.  For too long -- for too long, opportunistic politicians have created an all-or-nothing system -- your group is either in or you’re out, and the resources of the state were treated as spoils for the winner, rather than the rightful birthright of the people of Kenya.
When this toxic brand of politics is taken to its logical extreme in Kenya’s post-election violence, the results, I think, shocked even all of you -- but it clearly shocked the world.  Now, Kenyans must make a deliberate and difficult choice -- to reject the divisive politics, to reconcile their communities, to acknowledge the injustice of the past so you do not harbor deep-seated resentment in the future.  This resolve requires a deep inner strength --strength you can, and should, derive from your diversity. 

Turn Kenya’s youth into a source of innovation and vision.  Dare to reach for transformational change -- the kind of change that might come around only once in your lifetime.  I especially call on the young people -- the backbone of this country -- the next generation of Kenyan leaders.  Your energy is contagious, and your enthusiasm is boundless.  Your ideas and your voice can help create a peaceful, stable, democratic, and economically prosperous Kenya everyone here wants to see -- and, quite frankly, we want to see. 

And you have a steadfast supporter in the United States.  The United States of America’s relationship with Kenya is among the most important on the continent for us, one that has been strong and uninterrupted since your independence.  Thousands of American Peace Corps volunteers have taught in your schools and villages.  Hundreds of American businessmen have worked in American companies that have built their regional headquarters in Nairobi or Mombasa.  And the U.S. government has established its largest embassy in sub-Saharan Africa in your capital. 

In crisis and in celebration, we have forged a strong and enduring political and economic relationship.  We have worked together as partners and friends to tackle some of the most difficult problems in the region.  But true friendship -- and I hope you will forgive me, but true friendship demands honesty.  So if our words are sometimes blunt, it’s because our faith in the possibilities of Kenya are unlimited. 
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know from my personal experience, change is never easy.  And change in circumstances like yours is extremely difficult.  Fundamental change is never easy.  But I also know from personal experience that it’s possible.  I’ve seen it happen around the world.  As a young senator, I’ve stood in the capitals of Sarajevo and Pristina -- in the Balkans.  From the Balkans to the Middle East to Eastern Europe, I have seen dark paths transform, through the will of the people, to bring about brighter futures.
In the 1990s, I stood in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and in Pristina, Kosovo, and witnessed the god-awful carnage and the blood running in the rivers, the ethnic cleansing that we thought we’d never see again in Europe.  I saw the carnage and the hate.  I sat in refugee centers.  I sat in homes and heard about how neighbors who had been friends for years literally hacked one another to death in their backyards once Slobodan Milosevic’s ugly, ugly violence took hold.  The hate, it seemed to know no bounds.  And it seemed like it would never end. 
But, the people of those countries, they made a choice.  They ultimately rejected violence.  They drew a line on the past and today they are looking toward a future.  And they’ve given up their own vile criminals to the international courts, which is part of the reconciliation that was needed, acknowledging their individual responsibilities. 
It was a choice that not only is changing their future, but is changing the future of that entire portion of Europe.  And just one year ago, I was in Romania celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the fall of communism and the wall.  And I said then, “Now, we think of central Europe” -- “when we think of Central Europe, we don’t think of what we can do for you, but what we can do with you.”
My prayer is that very soon after you make these momentous changes that are needed, we’ll be talking about not what we can do for you, but what we can do with you, because you have begun to realize the great potential you possess.  The change is within your reach.  The same change that occurred in other parts of the world, including Iraq, can change here.
Ladies and gentlemen, nowhere is it written that the winds of change cannot blow through Africa -- nowhere is that written.  On December 12, 1963, a new day dawned on Kenya, one filled with promise for even better days ahead.  In the coming days and months, you have to -- the chance to build on that promise in a way you haven’t had for over three decades, to fulfill the dreams of everyone who watched that flag unfurl in that stadium 47 years ago.

And I want to close with some words that President Johnson used to end his letter to Prime Minister Kenyatta in 1963.  Here’s what he said -- he said, “May the responsibilities of freedom wake the best that is in you, and may its benefits be known by generations yet unborn.”  Well, I would say the same thing to you today.  
Asante sana.  May God bless you. (Applause.)  May God bless the Kenyan people.  (Applause.)  And may God bless America.  Thank you very much.  Don’t let your country down.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
11:23 A.M. (local)