Saturday, August 30, 2014


Greetings to the family and friends, and good health and best wishes for 2063. I write to you from the beautiful Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar, located on Lake Tana, as we finalize preparations for the Centenary celebrations of the Organisation of African Unity, which evolved to the African Union in 2002 and laid the foundations for what is now our Confederation of African States (CAS). Yes, who would have thought that the dream of Kwame Nkrumah and his generations, when they called in 1963 on Africans to unite or perish, would one day become a reality. And what a grand reality. At the beginning of the twenty first century, we used to get irritated with foreigners when they treated Africa as one country: as if we were not a continent of over a billion people and 55 sovereign states! But, the advancing global trend towards regional blocks, reminded us that integration and unity is the only way for Africa to leverage its competitive advantage. In fact, if Africa was one country in 2006, we would have been the 10th largest economy in the world! However, instead of acting as one, with virtually every resource in the world (land, oceans, minerals, energy, forests) and over a billion people, we acted as fifty-five small and fragmented individual countries. The bigger countries that should have been the locomotives of African integration, failed to play their role at that time, and that is part of the reasons it took us so long. We did not realize our power, but instead relied on donors, that we euphemistically called partners. That was the case in 2013, but reality finally dawned and we had long debates about the form that our unity should take: confederation, a united states, a federation or a union. As you can see, my friend, those debates are over and the Confederation of African States is now twelve years old, launched in 2051. The role played by successive generations of African youth contributed to our success. Already in 2013 during the Golden Jubilee celebrations, it was the youth that loudly questioned the slow progress towards integration. They formed African Union Clubs in schools and universities across the continent, and linked with each other on social media. Thus we saw the grand push for integration, for the free movement of people, for harmonization of education and professional qualifications, with the Pan African University and indeed the university sector and intelligentsia playing an instrumental role. We were a youthful continent at the start of the 21st century, but as our youth bulge grew, young men and women became even more active, creative, impatient and assertive, often telling us oldies that they are the future, and that they (together with women) form the largest part of the electorates in all our countries! Of course this was but one of the drivers towards unity. The accelerated implementation of the Abuja Treaty and the creation of the African Economic Community by 2034 saw economic integration moved to unexpected levels. Economic integration, coupled with infrastructure development, saw intra-Africa trade mushrooming, from less than 12% in 2013 to approaching 50% by 2045. This integration was further consolidated with the growth of commodity exchanges and continental commercial giants. Starting with the African pharmaceutical company, Pan African companies now not only dominate our domestic market of over two billion people, but they have overtaken multi-nationals from the rest of the world in their own markets. Even more significant than this, was the growth of regional manufacturing hubs, around the beneficiation of our minerals and natural resources, such as in the Eastern Congo, north-eastern Angola and Zambia’s copper belt and at major Silicon valleys in Kigali, Alexandria, Brazzaville, Maseru, Lagos and Mombasa, to mention but a few such hubs. My friend, Africa has indeed transformed herself from an exporter of raw materials with a declining manufacturing sector in 2013, to become a major food exporter, a global manufacturing hub, a knowledge centre, beneficiating our natural resources and agricultural products as drivers to industrialization. Pan African companies, from mining to finance, food and beverages, hospitality and tourism, pharmaceuticals, fashion, fisheries and ICT are driving integration, and are amongst the global leaders in their sectors. Africa is now the third largest economy in the world. As the Foreign Minister’s retreat in Bahir Dar in January 2014 emphasized, we did this by finding the balance between market forces and strong and accountable developmental states and RECS to drive infrastructure, the provision of social services, industrialization and economic integration. Let me recall what our mutual friend recently wrote: “The (African) agrarian revolution had small beginnings. Successful business persons (and local governments) with roots in the rural areas started massive irrigation schemes to harness the waters of the continent’s huge river systems. The pan-African river projects – on the Congo, the Nile, Niger, Gambia, Zambezi, Kunene, Limpopo and many others – financed by PPPs that involved African and BRIC investors, as well as the African Diaspora, released the continent’s untapped agricultural potential. By the intelligent application of centuries-old indigenous knowledge, acquired and conserved by African women who have tended crops in all seasons, within the first few years bumper harvests were being reported. Agronomists consulted women about the qualities of various grains – which ones survived low rainfalls and which thrived in wet weather; what pests threatened crops and how could they be combated without undermining delicate ecological systems. The social impact of the agrarian revolution was perhaps the most enduring change it brought about. The status of women, the tillers of the soil by tradition, rose exponentially. The girl child, condemned to a future in the kitchen or the fields in our not too distant past, now has an equal chance of acquiring a modern education (and owning a farm or an agribusiness). African mothers today have access to tractors and irrigation systems that can be easily assembled. The producers’ cooperatives, (agribusinesses) and marketing boards these women established help move their produce and became the giant food companies we see today.’ We refused to bear the brunt of climate change and aggressively moved to promote the Green economy and to claim the Blue economy as ours. We lit up Africa, the formerly dark continent, using hydro, solar, wind, geo-thermal energy, in addition to fossil fuels. And, whilst I’m on the Blue economy, the decision to form Africa-wide shipping companies, and encourage mining houses to ship their goods in vessels flying under African flags, meant a major growth spurt. Of course the decision taken in Dakar to form an African Naval Command to provide for the collective security of our long coastlines, certainly also helped. Let me quote from our mutual friend again: ‘Africa’s river system, lakes and coast-lines abound with tons of fish. With funding from the different states and the Diaspora, young entrepreneurs discovered… that the mouths of virtually all the rivers along the east coast are rich in a species of eel considered a delicacy across the continent and the world. Clever marketing also created a growing market for Nile perch, a species whose uncontrolled proliferation had at one time threatened the survival of others in Lake Victoria and the Nile. Today Namibia and Angola exploit the Benguela current, teaming with marine life, through the joint ventures funded by sovereign funds and the African Development Bank.” On the east coast, former island states of Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar and Mauritius are leading lights of the Blue economy and their universities and research institutes attract marine scientists and students from all over the world. My dear friend, you reminded me in your last e-mail how some magazine once called us ‘the hopeless continent’, citing conflicts, hunger and malnutrition, disease and poverty as if it was a permanent African condition. Few believed that our pledge in the 50th Anniversary Declaration to silence the guns by 2020 was possible. Because of our firsthand experience of the devastation of conflicts, we tackled the root causes, including diversity, inclusion and the management of our resources. If I have to single out one issue that made peace happened, it was our commitment to invest in our people, especially the empowerment of young people and women. By 2013 we said Africa needed a skills revolution and that we must change our educationsystems to produce young people that are innovative and entrepreneurial and with strong Pan African values. From early childhood education, to primary, secondary, technical, vocational and higher education – we experienced a true renaissance, through the investments we made, as governments and the private sector in education and in technology, science, research and innovation. Coupled with our concerted campaigns to eradicate the major diseases, to provide access to health services, good nutrition, water and sanitation, energy and shelter, our people indeed became and are our most important resource. Can you believe it my friend, even the dreaded malaria is a thing of the past. Of course this shift could not happen without Africa taking charge of its transformation, including the financing of our development. As one esteemed Foreign minister said in 2014: Africa is rich, but Africans are poor. With concerted political determination and solidarity, and sometimes one step back and two steps forward, we made financing our development and taking charge of our resources a priority, starting with financing the African Union, our democratic elections and our peacekeeping missions. The Golden Jubilee celebrations were the start of a major paradigm shift, about taking charge of our narrative. Agenda 2063, its implementation and the milestones it set, was part of what brought about this shift. We developed Agenda 2063 to galvanize and unite in action all Africans and the Diaspora around the common vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa. As an overarching framework, Agenda 2063 provided internal coherence to our various sectoral frameworks and plans adopted under the OAU and AU. It linked and coordinated our many national and regional frameworks into a common continental transformation drive. Planning fifty years ahead, allowed us to dream, think creatively, and sometimes crazy, to see us leapfrog beyond the immediate challenges. Anchored in Pan Africanism and the African renaissance, Agenda 2063 promoted the values of solidarity, self-belief, non-sexism, self-reliance and celebration of our diversity. As our societies developed, as our working and middle classes grew, as women took their rightful place in our societies, our recreational, heritage and leisure industries grew: arts and culture, literature, media, languages, music and film. WEB du Bois grand project of Encyclopedia Africana finally saw the light and Kinshasha is now the fashion capital of the world. From the onset, the Diaspora in the traditions of Pan Africanism, played its part, through investments, returning to the continent with their skills and contributing not only to their place of origin, but where the opportunities and needs were found. Let me conclude this e-mail, with some family news. The twins, after completing their space studies at Bahir Dar University, decided to take the month off before they start work at the African Space Agency, to travel the continent. My old friend, in our days, trying to do that in one month would have been impossible! But, the African Express Rail now connects all the capitals of our former states, and indeed they will be able to crisscross and see the beauty, culture and diversity of this cradle of humankind. The marvel of the African Express Rail is that it is not only a high speed-train, with adjacent highways, but also contains pipelines for gas, oil and water, as well as ICT broadband cables: African ownership, integrated planning and execution at its best! The continental rail and road network that now crisscross Africa, along with our vibrant airlines, our spectacular landscapes and seductive sunsets, the cultural vibes of our cities, makes tourism one of our largest economic sectors. Our eldest daughter, the linguist, still lectures in Kiswahili in Cabo Verde, at the headquarters of the Pan African Virtual University. Kiswahili is now a major African working language, and a global language taught at most faculties across the world. Our grand children find it very funny how we used to struggle at AU meetings with English, French and Portuguese interpretations, how we used to fight that the English version is not in line with the French or Arabic text! Now we have a lingua franca, and multi-lingualism is the order of the day. Remember how we used to complain about our voice not being heard in trade negotiations and the Security Council, how disorganized, sometimes divided and nationalistic we used to be in those forums, how we used to be summoned by various countries to their capitals to discuss their policies on Africa? How things have changed. The Confederation last year celebrated twenty years since we took our seat as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and we are a major force for global stability, peace, human rights, progress, tolerance and justice. My dear friend, I hope to see you next month in Haiti, for the second round of unity talks between the Confederation of African States and the Caribbean states. This is a logical step, since Pan Africanism had its roots amongst those early generations, as a movement of Africans from the mother continent and the Diaspora for liberation, self-determination and our common progress. I end this e-mail, and look forward to seeing you in February. I will bring along some of the chocolates from Accra that you so love, which our children can now afford. Till we meet again, Nkosazana

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Counter Africa Summit on August 4, 2014 at Howard University.

Hello, the Clan! I was asked to forward. I did because I agree with the spirit of the organizers. Prof. Horace Campbell spoke at an event I organized within 4 day's notice. Emira Woods is a force to contend with. Both are proven and seasoned in African Affairs. I agree with the planners, the US-Africa Summit heralds much of the same with unbridled profiteers on one hand and bleeding hearts, apron-string philanthropists on the other hand. Then you have the jokers scrambling for a piece. If you have to withdraw and simply watch the scenes come and go, it is not a bad idea. Resource-rich Africa is exploited and hapless Africa is rescued. In my early coffee break, I thought about it. My phone rank, it was my Dad. "So Mamie (how he calls me), how is it going with the Summit and I learnt Republicans voted to sue Obama." My response: Daddy, nothing is going to happen. Obama may be trying but his hands may be tied. He has to play ball with his base - those who influence him, corporate types and the military -industrial complex whom he must listen to in order not to appear as a black, weak president. Even Al Sharpton, no word from him. I thought he should have opened the Summit with the People's Prayer Breakfast for Africa. " Then I started laughing: "black actors are very mad or very confused in this Summit." The conversation changed to pleasantries as my Dad was obviously amused, judging from his listening, not in a hurry to say, "I love you, say hi to your sister, bye." Back to it. In each society, the center is preserved through healthy balance. In the case, the main subject, the African people, are relegated to peripheral watchers with no support whatsoever from their governments who are wasting African resources to arrive in Washington DC, with assorted entourage, as feted guests with no agenda. The money these folks are misusing is more than the budget of a village near them. Using the different voices in the polyphonic jamboree, any serious mind can identify and and analyze the importance of the agendas: the purposes and outcomes that commonly escape change. I am a stickler for order, the type that believes in giving back, paraphrasing JFK, we should not look forward to what we can get out of Africa but how we can help her grow for the collateral benefit of all. If I may say so, the disregard, insensitivity, arrogance and ignorance of our own officials and governments can overwhelm the best of patriots. In Things Fall Apart, we analyze the contextual meaning in a given situation: Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre The Falcon Cannot Hear the Falconer Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the World I get direct responses when I forward mails. Please read below and call the event coordinator directly at: 301-267-7328 MsJoe

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Dear All, The African Union Commission wishes to inform the African Diaspora Community that the Town Hall meetings designed as side-events of the Africa-US Leaders Summit to engage the African Diaspora media on the implementation of the AU Communication strategy and Agenda 2063 in Washington and New York on 4 and 8 August 2014 has been postponed. The events will be rescheduled to take place on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2014. The event has been postponed because CIDO and the Directorate of information and Communication that were organizing the meeting were advised to change the dates to avoid perceived logistic and political difficulties surrounding the Africa-US Leaders Summit. The Commission wishes to thank Diaspora personalities and institutions for their commitment and support for the program and the efforts that they have invested to mobilize Diaspora communities and build up momentum for the event. Furthermore, we wish to encourage wide participation in events organized by the Diaspora Community around the Africa-US Summit. The delegation of the African Union Commission to the Summit and the AU office in Washington will do all that they can to ensure that the Diaspora Community are well-briefed on Summit events and outcomes. It is important to emphasize that the commitment of the AU to engage the Diaspora media as a vehicle for building a comprehensive stakeholder community in the Union that involves all sectors of society remains paramount. Thus the media event has not been cancelled but has been postponed to facilitate a more focused and wider broad approach church within a more suitable political environment. The Commission deeply regrets any inconvenience that this may have caused. The Directorate of Information and Communication and CIDO are liaising appropriately with the higher authorities of the Commission to fix new and precise dates for this event in September that will not be subject to further changes. We request your kind tolerance and understanding in this process and will communicate the new dates and venue soon. We continue to ask for your support to make the events a success in September 2014. Diaspora Division Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO) AU Commission

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Not everyone called 'thief' is a thief, and not everyone who shouts 'baggage' is clean!

Dr.Shem Ochuodho: Good people, Exactly 10 years ago, I was unceremoniously hounded out of the Kenya Pipeline (KPC) and dragged to court, for reasons that were a confluence of political and business interests, disguised as 'abuse of office' or simply corruption charges. After 10 very painful years of ostracization and pariah-hood that almost destroyed my professional career, the High Court in Nairobi recently dismissed the charges against me. I want to thank the good Lord who allowed me to live long enough to see the day of vindication. I am reminded of a lady sacked by a former employer (one of the leading media houses), had to wait for 35 years for the outcome of her matter, for a verdict in her favour to be read only 10 days after her death. How cruel - and I feel it for her! I want to thank family, relatives and friends who did not for a moment lose faith in me, my integrity, truthfulness to what I profess and fidelity to the law. This includes my lawyer-friends (James Kounah & Philip Ocharo) who defended me almost on pro-bono basis! Often it is claimed 'corruption fights back, with ill-acquired wealth used to buy judges'. Not so in this case. I want to thank the Judiciary, more so the presiding Judge whose name I didn't even know until after the good news (the ruling) was broken to me! While commending the justice systems for improved dispensation of justice, as a country we are not out of the woods yet. We still have a long way to go. This is why I would want to caution friends from being judgmental. Not all that glitters is gold. That the media totally failed to report on this ruling just goes to confirm the conspiracy theories. As for my next line of action, I'll still take a breather and celebrate the vindication. What am certain not to do is to revenge: as the good Book says, 'vengeance is mine'. Aluta, Shem

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Press Release

AS THE 48TH COUNTY, THE KENYAN DIASPORA DEMANDS BETTER LEADERSHIP, AN END TO INSECURITY, INSTITUTIONALIZED CORRUPTION, NEPOTISM, AND ANIMOSITY WITH THE “WEST” July 16, 2014: The catastrophic and escalating levels of insecurity in Kenya continue to appall the Kenyan Diaspora Community. We believe that this situation is indicative of underlying failures in our beloved country including but not limited to inequality, sky-rocketing cost of living, an inept and reactive security system, unemployment-marginalization and exclusion of the youth, nepotism, corruption and a failure to give due attention to Agenda Four reforms. The Kenyan Diaspora is deeply connected to Kenya because regardless of where we go, we are first and foremost Kenyan. We also have family, friends, property and initiatives that we care about and would like to see prosper in peace. The Diaspora Community is calling on the government to use any legitimate means necessary to ensure the immediate and long-term security of Kenyans. Should that call for an overhaul of the security systems, so be it. On 27 April, Jung Hong-won, the Prime Minister of South Korea, accepted responsibility for the sinking of the MV Sewol and announced his resignation. While we are not asking of the same for Kenya, we stress the need for Kenyan leaders to take Kenyan lives seriously with full responsibility. We would rather a culture of 'resignation' than leaders being forced out of office for failing to live up to their mandate. Kenya and Kenyans lives are bigger than any one of us, including the leadership – both in government and opposition. The Kenyan Diaspora is concerned about the growing rift between our country and the traditional “Western” allies. Regardless of our view of the west, international systems today call for interdependence. Alienating a certain part of the world only serves to harm relations that could promote trade, tourism and other exchanges. Let’s keep in mind that a good percentage of the Kenyan Diaspora, including students and many of our national leaders’ kids, live, study and work in the “West”. The Diaspora Community calls on our government to maintain good diplomatic relations with these traditional allies to ensure that Kenyans are happy and protected even when abroad, even as we forge relations with new partners as is commendably happening. After all, the ‘East’ and ‘West’ themselves appear to relate very well; why can’t we do the same with both, and even more? We can play a major role in Diaspora Diplomacy and remain available to contribute towards improving relations between Kenya and host countries. The upcoming August 2014 USA-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC is one rare, excellent opportunity for such Diaspora involvement. The Diaspora has been interested in and should be a major stakeholder in our national dialogue to protect, promote and fulfill democracy, social justice and the rule of law. The Diaspora strongly feels that there is exclusion in the Kenyan governance system. Presently only 27 ethnic groups are represented in Parliament, and much worse only two or three dominate the higher echelons of our National Government, leaving others with no voice in this important aspect of their lives. We call upon the leadership to use affirmative action and other provisions in the Constitution to ensure that diversity in governance and in all spheres of the Kenyan economy is a reality. Inclusiveness and equity are values strongly anchored in Article 10 of our new constitution, and should not be blatantly defiled this early in its implementation. Finally, we are ready to work with our county and national governments to pursue the well being of the individual, the family and the communities, and sustain the environment for the benefit of future generations. Most conflicts can be traced to deteriorating and unsustainable mis-management of our environment. The current raid on our precious natural fauna and flora is unacceptable, knowing their importance to our very existence and prosperity. Besides, historical injustices relate to inequitable access to resources like land. The current model of developing few urban settings and neglecting rural settings is not the way to go. We should take advantage of the devolved systems and technological innovations to ensure equitable development and wealth creation across board. As a way forward for national healing, reconciliation and inspiration towards a common good, we reiterate a call we made immediately after the elections last year for the constitution of a “National Consultative Assembly (NCA)”, which would include the executive (at both national and county levels), legislatures, political parties, clergy, youth, women, disabled, civil society, professionals, Diaspora, private sector, workers, academia, minorities, media, and any other segment of society that will add value to the process. The NCA could leverage Agenda 4 and the Truth, Justice & Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Report to inform the national consultation process. We see all-inclusive consultation, not just between politicians alone but across-board, as the only way to reunite the country and hit the road towards greatness and real, sustainable growth we can all once more own, associate with and be proud of. ######### The Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA) is a Federation of over 30 of the major Diaspora organizations with a combined nominal membership of about 250,000 Kenyans across the globe. KDA has recently secured a historic Court of Appeal verdict for all Diaspora to be facilitated to vote for all elective offices in future elections. The Alliance and the organizations it represents, seek to facilitate an inclusive exchange of information for the purpose of developing and promoting the participation of the Kenyan Diaspora in national development. For more information contact: Conveners, Kenya Diaspora Alliance (For and on behalf of) Dr Shem Ochuodho KDA Convenor/Chairman, New Vision Kenya (NVK) Juba, South Sudan, Tel: +211-955-021040, Email: shemochuodho@yahoo.com Peter Kerre KDA Co-Convenor/Coordinator, Kenya Diaspora Vote (KDV) & Aktive Advocacy Group New York, USA, Email: peter.kerre@aktiveadvocacygroup.com ----- end ---- __._,_.___

Kenyans in diaspora warn state against isolating the West

BY LYDIA MATATA Kenyans in Diaspora have raised concerns over what they see as a growing rift between Kenya and the West. In a statement signed by Kenya Diaspora Alliance chairman Shem Ochuodho and Coordinator Peter Kerre, the alliance has warned the government against “alienating” certain parts of the world saying that it only serves to harm relations that could promote trade, tourism and other exchanges. The statement comes days after the government on Saturday issued a travel advisory warning Kenyan citizens against travelling through London’s Heathrow airport. Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohammed said however that the advisory was not a retaliation for travel advisories issued by the UK government. “Let’s keep in mind that a good percentage of the Kenyan Diaspora, including students and many of our national leaders’ kids, live, study and work in the West” KDA said in the statement released on Wednesday. KDA further said that the upcoming August 2014 USA-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC which President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to attend, is an opportunity for the diaspora community to help towards better relations between Kenya and host countries. The Diaspora community has also called on the government to curb escalating levels of insecurity. “We believe that this situation is indicative of underlying failures in our beloved country including but not limited to inequality, skyrocketing cost of living, an inept and reactive security system, unemployment-marginalization and exclusion of the youth, nepotism, corruption and a failure to give due attention to Agenda Four reforms.” KDA said. The alliance said that the insecurity levels may call for an overhaul of the security system pointing to the example of South Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-Won took responsibility for a ferry disaster in that claimed more than 300 lives after and resigned on April 27. “While we are not asking of the same for Kenya, we stress the need for Kenyan leaders to take Kenyan lives seriously with full responsibility. We would rather a culture of 'resignation' than leaders being forced out of office for failing to live up t o their mandate. Kenya and Kenyans lives are bigger than any one of us, including the leadership – both in government and opposition.” KDA said. - See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-177489/kenyans-diaspora-warns-state-against-isolating-west#sthash.b9sKRivk.dpuf

Friday, June 06, 2014

Kenyans in the Diaspora will now fully participate in the general elections beginning 2017.

This was after the Court of Appeal ruled that IEBC should set more facilities and infrastructure in the Diaspora to allow voter registration in preparation for the next election.While delivering the ruling, Justice Roselyn Nambuye directed the IEBC to ensure that Kenyans in Diaspora vote for all positions vied for in the next general elections.During the last general election, the question whether voters in the Diaspora were eligible to vote or not generated heated debate. In the end, scores of voters within the East African nations were the only lucky Kenyans in Diaspora who managed to vote.The case was filed by New Vision Kenya and Kenyans in Diaspora who sought the IEBC to ensure that all Kenyans in the Diaspora vote in the next elections. By Wangui Ngechu

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Kenyan envoy to US defends staff in ethics row

By Antony Karanja Kenya’s ambassador to the US has dismissed allegations that embassy staff in Washington DC were inefficient, rude and unprofessional. Ms Jean Kamau was responding to reports in the Kenyan media that the embassy ignored calls. There have also been concerns on under- staffing and inadequate resources to cater for Kenyans in the US. Ms Kamau, who spoke to the Nation in Dallas, denied the reports. She said Kenyans were treated well whether living in the diaspora or as visitors who wanted to travel to our motherland. The envoy said the embassy staff were equipped to process the large number of applications and queries they received. She said there was a channel to direct complaints on their website. Ms Kamau asked Kenyans to lodge formal complaints with the embassy “so that there is proper follow-up on any issues they may encounter.” She said that the embassy would respond to all the grievances.

Body formed to boost investment by Kenyans in the diaspora

By RAWLINGS OTINI The government plans to establish a body that will make it easy for Kenyans in the diaspora to do business and help them harness more gains from their earnings abroad. The director for diaspora and consular affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zachary Muburi-Muita disclosed that plans are at an advanced stage to establish the National Diaspora Council of Kenya (NADICOK). The body will help to champion policies that will help the Kenyan diaspora to do business more efficiently by providing advisory information and devising relevant investment vehicles. The Kenyan embassy in France promised to negotiate special terms with commercial banks and facilitate business transactions for the Kenyan diaspora in France and countries such as Serbia and Portugal.
Left to right: Mr Tom Ndalo, Head of Retail Bank of Africa Kenya, Mr Anis Kaddouri -Deputy Managing Director - Bank of Africa Kenya, Mr. Mohamed Bennani - Group CEO Bank of Africa Ambassador Salma Ahmed, Kenya’s ambassador to France said that Kenyans in the diaspora need to focus more keenly and seriously on business. They were speaking during the second Kenya Diaspora Trade and Investment Conference on 31st May 2014 organized by the embassy of Kenya in France and Bank of Africa. Kenyans in the diaspora normally send home more than Sh100 billion annually. The government has been working to help them realize more returns from the money and also invest in government projects. Some of the policies include the floating of the diaspora bond, investment in infrastructure bonds among others. World Bank findings shows that a large percentage of the remittances go towards buying basic needs and paying school fees for family and relatives.

Uhuru's new appointee faces herculean task at Diaspora docket

By BMJ MURIITHI When Ambassador Zachary Dominic Muburi-Muita was appointed as head of the Directorate of Diaspora Affairs, not many Kenyans noticed. In fact, few knew that such a post existed within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. By appointing a seasoned diplomat to the post, the President must have been trying to send a subliminal message to his critics that he is serious about engaging with the Diaspora. However, Kenyan media largely snubbed the news of the appointment, perhaps considering it too mundane. The only mention of Mr Muita was on a Facebook post where the Director of Digital, New Media and Diaspora relations, Dennis Itumbi, announced that issues regarding Kenyans living outside the country would be handled by the new director. But even then, he misspelt his name, referring to him as Mr Mwamburi. DIGITAL PROMISE In July last year, Mr Kenyatta announced a major reorganisation in his office and appointed the hitherto blogger-cum-activist the Director of newly created Digital, New Media and Diaspora Department. An elated Itumbi said: “I pledge to lead the path in delivering the Digital promise and to connect the concerns and ideas of Kenyans in the Diaspora and those on the digital space with Government service and the Presidency.” But the excitement was short lived, or so it seemed. Soon after the appointment, all manner of barbs began flying his way, with some even faulting the President for “relegating the Diaspora affairs into a small corner of his office.” The most high profile denigration came from former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who rubbished Mr Itumbi’s appointment saying: “The kind of character who has been appointed by the Government… I don’t think has the kind of connection and capacity to bring the Diaspora together.” TAKE THE BLAME In an interview with Nation.co.ke in Dallas, Texas, Mr Odinga criticised President Kenyatta for creating a “mere desk in his office and not giving the Diaspora the seriousness it deserves.” Since then, Mr Itumbi has on several occasions found himself on the receiving end as he, sometimes unsuccessfully, tried to explain what the exact mandate of his office is. (READ: You have failed us, Kenyans in US tell Jubilee government) Mr Muburi-Muita faces a herculean task in the newly created Directorate. Controversy has dogged the Diaspora desk since its establishment by the President Uhuru Kenyatta. Before his appointment was announced, Mr Itumbi said: "On the Diaspora front, it must be said from the depth of my heart and mind, we did not do a good job in 2013. "The ideas and planning were superb, but the execution has been slow and the impact dismal. There are many reasons, but instead of naming them for now, I take the blame.” As the Jubilee administration marked its first year in office last April, Mr Kenyatta was fiercely criticised by Kenyans in the Diaspora. Some said their agenda was never given much thought both in the TNA and URP manifestoes prior to the merger of the two parties. “The chickens are now coming home to roost. It is a clear indication that from the word go, we were just a by-the-way in grand scheme of things,” said Jeremy Anguka in an interview with Nation.co.ke in Washington DC. KENYA'S 48TH COUNTY Others urged the President to cut the rhetoric and act. “What we want to see are tangible results. We are tired of speeches,” said Wainaina Mbugua soon after President Kenyatta delivered a speech in Kampala during a meeting with Kenyans living in Uganda three months ago. “My government considers the Diaspora the single biggest asset outside the country for the developmental roles it plays through remittances,” the President had said. In May last year, President Kenyatta told Kenyans living in the UK that he considers the Diaspora as Kenya’s 48th county. “My Government is developing instruments of engagement to bolster relationship with you, the Diaspora to ensure there is a inn enabling environment for you to invest in key projects in the country,” he said. One year later, this is yet to be actualised. The entry of Mr Muburi-Muita is however seen as a step in the right direction. “He has what it takes to streamline the Diaspora and bring it to par with other progressive Diasporas,” said Peterson Muthoga of Atlanta, Georgia. Mr Muita sought to assure Kenyans in the Diaspora that they will see positive changes in the very near future. The envoy said his immediate assignment is to ensure that the eagerly awaited Kenya Diaspora Policy is out by mid June. “Once we do this, our mandate and terms of engagement will be clear and we will all be reading from the same script,” he told Nation.co.ke during a phone interview. ECONOMIC MUSCLE Last year, the Kenyan Diaspora remitted over Sh110 billion which is the equivalent of 5.4 per cent of the country’s GDP. (READ: Kenyans abroad send home Sh110.7 billion) Vision 2030, Kenya’s economic blueprint unveiled in 2007, was cognisant of the role of the Diaspora as a key player in the country’s economic development. But even as the Diaspora is hailed for its economic muscle, it has variously been criticised for lack of cohesion. According to Ms Regina Njogu, a Washington DC based lawyer, divisions in the Diaspora make it very difficult for any meaningful engagement. “They have failed to form into an inclusive organization. Instead of a streamlined umbrella Diaspora body, what we have is a proliferation of organisations all over the world, most with no national outlook,” she wrote in an opinion piece in the Nairobi Law Monthly. So who is this man tasked with a spearheading activities in one of the five key pillars of Kenya’s Foreign Policy? Mr Mumburi-Muita is a career diplomat who, prior to his appointment as the envoy to the UN by President Mwai Kibaki in 2006, served as Kenya’s High Commissioner to Tanzania. TIME TO DELIVER Previously, he was a Principal Counsellor at the Kenya Embassy in Israel and the head of the Middle East Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also served as the head of the Americas Division, Senior Assistant Secretary and Acting Head of the Asia and Australasia Division. The envoy also acted in various capacities in Kenya’s missions abroad, including in the Netherlands and the Sudan. In January 2010, he was elected President of the UN High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation, which spearheaded the intergovernmental review and policymaking of South-South Cooperation. Prior to his current undertaking, he was the head of the UN office to the African Union in Addis Ababa, appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in 2010. As to whether Mr Muburi-Muita will deliver, only time will tell.