AU High Representative for Infrastructure Raila Odinga and DP William Ruto are famously for their arch political rivalry. However, that was tossed to the side when the two leader’s sat side by side on the same table during the launch of country’s national export strategy. Camera’s were trained on the two, who would share moments of laughter and at one point were seen to be engaged in a lengthy conversation as the cameras rolled.
Held in Nairobi’s KICC on Monday afternoon, DP William Ruto said he was representing President Uhuru Kenyatta at the event, while Raila said he was in attendance in his capacity as the AU High Representative for Infrastructure. The policy document being launched was dubbed The integrated national export development and promotion strategy.
While addressing delegates present, Raila expressed his concerns about Kenya’s energy sector, saying it was hampering investment. He appealed to the government to lower cost of generating energy, noting that value addition on minerals and other commodities cannot be done at higher power costs.
“To do value addition you need a lot of power. Energy costs currently are too high. When the cost stands at 16 cents per unit, you cannot compete effectively internationally. You cannot compete with someone who pays 3 cents for power,” said Raila.
Odinga also pointed out the red tape in government which has hindered a lot of investments in the country as a result of constant frustration from government officials.
“You’ve got here an animal called the energy and petroleum regulatory authority. I don’t know what it is supposed to regulate. It is actually hampering energy generation in this country,” said Raila.
On his part, DP William Ruto said said the policy document would help grow the Kenyan export share as a percentage to the country’s Gross Domestic Product from eight to 22 per cent.
”It is clear Kenya’s export numbers are lagging behind; others in the global market. We need to solve this problem. Our trade deficit is close to a trillion shillings. Let’s implement this strategy with urgency and diligence and begin to grow Kenya’s economic footprint,” said Ruto.
Also present at the event was Trade and Industrialization CS Peter Munya and a host of other top government officials.