OPINION: Harambee spirit lives on in Uhuru’s bilateral and multilateral engagements
By Michael Cherambos
Individual achievements might be something nice to boast about, but getting something major done on your own is actually very rare. When a young man finishes university, has he done it all by himself? No, not really. His parents worked hard to raise him and to pay for his education. Maybe he got some encouragement from his aunts and uncles and grandparents along the way. Maybe he has a young wife who supported him behind the scenes by taking care of their young son while he was studying and preparing for exams.
What about when a budding entrepreneur sets up a new business? She should be congratulated for all of her hard work, but it did not come out of nowhere. It took a lot of support from friends and family, perhaps investors, banks, and maybe a few professors and mentors along the way.
Significant accomplishments do not happen without backup and teamwork. Not at the individual level, and not on the national level. No level of development can be realised unless we, the Kenyan people, are willing to support each other and be good team players, willing to partner with international allies.
The Bible tells us in Corinthians 12:14, “the body is not one member, but many”. This is a simple verse but offers us great wisdom. All Christians are in the body of Christ, and he is found within each and every one of us. All of humanity is a team working to make the world a better place, and our strength comes in our unity. Teamwork is the key to carrying out God’s will.
The backbone of the Kenyan economy is unity. This has always been a Kenyan tradition going way back to harambee, when our grandparents and great grandparents were guided by first President Jomo Kenyatta. He used the concept of coming together as development policy after we were torn apart by colonialism.
And it seems the senior Kenyatta passed on his belief in the one-ness of many to his son, the fourth and current President Uhuru Kenyatta. The modern day manifestation of harambee is seen in almost all of Uhuru’s policies, both in the foreign relations sphere and on the domestic front.
At the recent Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) 7 Conference in Japan, which followed TICAD 6 hosted in Nairobi in 2016, Uhuru is reported to have used the opportunity to set the groundwork for more Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) between Japan and Kenya. PPPs are the best way to engage the private sector in public development projects and offer a great opportunity to build our economy through unity.
His work fostering teamwork between the public and private sectors has already born fruits. At TICAD 7, The Kenyan Investment Authority (KenInvest) and the Meru County Government signed a Ksh.15 billion agreement with Australia-based Windlab and Japan-based Eurus Energy to create the first renewable energy plant in Africa. Sustainable energy is one of the key themes supporting almost every aspect and project of the Big Four Agenda.
The plant is expected to provide 80 megawatts of clean renewable energy from wind turbines and solar panels. It will be enough sustainable energy to power 200,000 homes and earn revenue for the Meru County Government to use towards other development programmes. As a PPP connecting the Meru Government with international investors, all partners in the initiative have also agreed to work on capacity building and knowledge transfer.
This is one of several memorandums of understanding (MOU) between Japan and Kenya that have emerged from TICAD summits. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and Kenyan Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma were both present at its signing.
Teamwork of any form, whether as partnerships with our Asian allies, between different groups within Kenya, or the government working with private Kenyan businesses, is the surest way to reach our development goals. It cannot be done alone.
Kenya needs the help of its own citizens as well as allies across the globe in order to succeed. In the past few months, we have really seen Uhuru working on transnational partnerships that lay the foundations for a robust and reliable economy for years to come.
If we are thinking in terms of the words of Christ, we can imagine Kenya as a unified body made up of millions of individuals. Each of us has a unique role, but ultimately, our strength is in our unity.
Mr Cherambos comments on topical issues.
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