East African Community Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed has said that Kenya is being systematically isolated regionally, advancing that it must leverage on its huge infrastructure projects to retain its hegemony.
Mr Mohammed said Kenya risks being pushed out of international trade by regional countries "who have decided to do their own things without involving us".
"We are punching below our weight in transport and trade, and unless we do something urgently we shall lose out badly," Mr Mohammed said when he addressed the Senate Speaker's Roundtable in Naivasha on Friday.
The roundtable is a platform that provides for structured engagements between the private sector and the Senate by facilitating a joint review of legislative matters that contribute to economic growth and development in Kenya.
While the minister hailed projects being like the standard gauge railway (SGR) and Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset), he said they will not amount to anything if they do not provide the necessary connectivity to global trading routes.
"The SGR is a very good idea but terminating it in Naivasha will not help Kenya's geostrategic interests," he said in remarks he insisted were his own and did not reflect the position of the government.
"We need to think on our leverage and do it very quickly because if we don't Kenya shall get itself out of business. Things are moving around us and the status quo mentality will not help," he said.
Mr Mohammed said infrastructure linking the Horn of Africa states of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia are fast becoming strategic links connecting East Africa's emerging industrial and commercial hubs with Asia and the Middle East.
Ethiopia is leading in development of cross-border infrastructure in the region, and deepening ties with China and Gulf States indicate the vital role that access to the ports in Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia will play in regional development and trade opportunities, particularly as Ethiopia evolves into a manufacturing powerhouse.
Ethiopia is also constructing the Grand Renaissance Dam, which upon its completion next year, will be Africa's biggest hydroelectric power plant.
The US$4 billion dam will generate a massive 6,000 megawatts of electricity.
The CS regretted that Ethiopia is making connections with other countries in the region and not Kenya, warning that it portends danger for the country in international trade.