President Uhuru Kenyatta has sought to reassure Kenyans that the State of the Nation is strong despite the economic disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wish from the onset to assure you that the State of our Nation is strong, resilient and brimming with the promise of an even brighter tomorrow,” said President Kenyatta as he commenced his seventh State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Thursday.
The Head of State highlighted the progress made in the implementation of his administration’s vision and plan encompassed under the Big Four Agenda.
In the Education sector the President reported that in January last year, his government successfully commenced the roll-out of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), saying that “while not without its challenges, CBC is one that has nevertheless been fully embraced by all stakeholders in the education sector.”
He went further to state that as at the end of 2019, the government had been able to achieve a textbook to pupil ratio of 1:1 for grades 1 through to 3 as well as a transition rate of 100% from primary to secondary school.
“I assure this distinguished sitting that the journey to replace the 8.4.4 system with the new fit-for-purpose curricula, is well underway, and refinements are being undertaken in the course of implementation,” said Kenyatta.
On Health matters, Kenyatta said piloting of the Universal Health Care programme in the Counties of Nyeri, Machakos, Kisumu and Isiolo in preparation for a roll out nationwide had been successfully implemented.
“As we inch closer to the national rollout of the Universal Health Coverage, a fortnight ago, I launched the Biometric Registration for the Universal Health Coverage Scheme. Similarly, my Administration is instituting far-reaching reforms of NHIF as its perfects the medical insurance scheme,” he added.
President Kenyatta also cited the increase in mental illness across the country and around the world, stating that he has established an Office in the Ministry of Health to handle the matter.
He further announced that he has issued an Executive Order establishing an ultra-modern National Mental Health Hospital by elevating Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital as a semi-autonomous specialized hospital.
On the affordable housing plan under the Big 4 agenda, Kenyatta said his administration’s pilot project at Park Road, Nairobi had been delivered ahead of schedule and within budget.
“We have also concluded the successful incorporation and capitalization of the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Corporation. This Corporation, will improve mortgage affordability, increase the number of qualifying borrowers, and result in the expansion of the primary mortgage market and home ownership in Kenya while also deepening the capital markets through large-scale medium to long-term refinance options, he added.
He further announced that during his tenure 4.5 million titles have been issued in the seven (7) years since 2013; “as compared to the six (6) million issued from 1963 to 2013.”
“To restore fully the sanctity of title, we are digitizing all the land records across the Republic. The system is designed to enhance security of land records, improve accessibility, and dramatically reduce the cost of land transactions,” said Kenyatta.
On matters concerning the youth, the President said his objective has been to shift the young people from being ‘earners of wages’ to ‘owners of capital’ through engaging them in collective action.
“This is partly why we have revived RIVATEX as a producer of textiles and consumer of locally produced cotton. This is in line with the Agricultural Transformation Strategy that obliges the growth of new strains of bio-technical cotton as a key area of opportunity for Kenyan farmers,” he said.
The President also cited various programmes rolled out in response to the needs of businesses both large and small among them the recently commissioned Transit Shed at the Kenya Railways, Nairobi.
He also highlighted the waiver of Single Business Permits for all new businesses registered in Nairobi for the first 2 years of their operations and waiver of the presumptive tax requirement for all new businesses.
“These two initiatives and others within our Ease of Doing Programme will now be aggressively rolled-out nationwide,” he said.
The President added that construction of the Nairobi Expressway Project continues apace, further pointing out that he recently witnessed the signing of the Nairobi-Mau-Summit Express Way, touted as Africa’s largest Public-Private Partnership funded project.
“These are milestone projects, which will have significant positive impact on the economy, by decongesting Nairobi’s gateways on the part of the Expressway Project and by opening up the economies of and increasing connectivity in Western, Rift Valley and Central Kenya on the part of the Nairobi-Mau-Summit Project,” he said.
With regard to Ports and Bridges, the President cited completion of the Lamu Port Berth-One , adding that his administration is in the final stages of installing the Likoni Floating Bridge; a 824m long bridge costing Ksh1.96 billion that will be the first automated floating bridge in Kenya.
“The Likoni Floating Bridge will help to decongest ferry transport at the Likoni Channel in the context of COVID-19 safety concerns and beyond by providing alternative safe pedestrian connectivity between Liwatoni on Mombasa Island to Ras Bofu on the Likoni mainland side. Further, the Kisumu Port Rehabilitation works are complete, and the new port is already processing fuel products to Uganda,” he said.
With regard to the energy sector, he said the last mile connectivity programme had crossed the 7.2 million household connections mark, adding that the Country is proceeding well towards the aspiration of 100% universal electricity access by 2022.
On national security he said: “The State of our national security is STRONG. Our homeland is secure from the varied threats against it. For this, on behalf of all Kenyans, and as Commander-in-Chief, I give thanks and praises to the brave men and women of our security services.”
He also cited the expansion of the National Police Service Control and Command Centre for surveillance and launch of the Digital Occurrence Book Pilot Project.
“In addition, I recently unveiled the national security innovations exhibition at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Law Enforcement Academy in Manyani, Taita Taveta County,” he added.
He concluded his address by pointing out the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process which he said was a deliberate step by his government to place the country “on the path to greater national unity, inclusivity, peace, and reconciliation.