Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured Kenyans of a better year as the governnment embarks on key development projects that will transform the country.
In his New Year message to Kenyans, the Head of State said thousands of jobs will be created as construction of the standard gauge railway gets underway in earnest from Mombasa and irrigation of one million acres of land becomes a reality, starting in Tana River and Kilifi counties.
"In 2014, the Jubilee manifesto will come alive. Billions of shillings of investment in our energy sector will also start pouring in this year, raising the ante on our plan to add 5,000 megawatts of electricity on the national grid in the next 36 months, and to lower electricity prices by at least 50 per cent in that period," President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta disclosed that the laptops programme for primary entry children will also begin in earnest in the coming weeks. The President expressed satisfaction that a number of projects that form the plank of the Jubilee manifesto have already been launched.
He cited the free maternity services that have moved the country closer to achieving Millennium Development Goal Number 5 on improving maternal health and eased the pain of childbirth for many mothers as one of those projects.
"It has also greatly improved our monitoring of HIV prevalence," the Head of State said. He emphasized that the Jubilee Coalition is committed to inclusive growth and improving the lives of all Kenyans, adding that it will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.
"Access to education, clean water, health services - these are imperatives that our people should and must have access to," the President said. On the political front, the President urged all leaders to pursue a brand of politics that helps to improve the welfare of Kenyans.
"We must avoid parochial and divisive politics, and embrace a national culture that will define us positively in the next 50 years and beyond," the President said. He stressed that the national agenda must be progressive, issue-based and people-centred.
The President said his Government will encourage mature and responsible engagement among leaders, among the three arms of the Government and between Business and Government.
Looking to 2014 with enthusiasm and optimism, President Kenyatta said his Administration is committed to national unity as one of its driving objectives and will pursue a theme of "Reconciliation and Unity towards inclusive growth" which is important for the nation.
Saying his Government's primary responsibility is security of the people and their property, the President pointed out that in 2013 two major policing initiatives were launched. These were the "Nyumba Kumi" initiative and a technology-driven strategic operation, including the use of CCTV in the streets of major cities and towns, and broadband connectivity at border points.
"We have invested heavily in surveillance equipment and in vehicles, which we believe will help drive crime away from our shores," the President said.
He, however, reminded all Kenyans that security is a shared responsibility and they should play a role in ensuring safety by committing to the rule of law.
At the regional arena, the President said the New Year should see further progress in the agenda to ensure free movement of persons in eastern Africa and greater integration on the continent. He said his Government will continue to work with neighbouring in East African states to drive that agenda.
"We will also work to help each other, East African countries, to resolve security challenges that may crop up from time to time," the President said.
He said Kenya and its IGAD partners have appointed special envoys to seek a negotiated settlement of the South Sudan crisis to protect the fledgling democracy in Africa's youngest nation. He commended Kenyan security agents for evacuating Kenyans from the troubled Horn of Africa country and delivering emergency supplies.
"We also salute our men and women in uniform involved in peace-keeping and peace enforcement around the world, especially those with AMISOM in Somalia," the President said. He called on all Kenyans to play their part in making the dream of Kenya's growth and prosperity a reality.