Kenya an ambassador for Africa and partner to powerful nations
Kenya has been pivotal in global relations for a thousand years.
In 1963, two years after I was born, Kenya gained its independence under my father Jomo Kenyatta.
But Kenya has been at the centre of global commerce for centuries, through networks of Arab, Persian, Indian and European merchants.
As the nexus of the transit of goods between three continents, Kenya became the heart of Indian Ocean trade.
We served not only as a base for foreign servicemen, but gave our own lives in the two World Wars, helping to secure global peace.
As the next chapter of Kenya’s story begins, the world must hear our voice.
I want to see Kenya take it rightful place on the world stage.
As chair of the EAC, we spearheaded greater regional and Pan-African cooperation as a basis for the benefit of over 150 million East Africans.
Only by opening up developing nations to the possibilities presented by markets around the world can we elevate Africa to a status of equity with international partners.
The invitation to address the world’s most powerful leaders at the G7 Summit recognises the critical role Kenya now plays as that leading voice in Africa.
I am both honoured and inspired, but also very aware of the weight of responsibility that comes with this opportunity to represent Africa to the leaders of the seven most powerful nations.
Since becoming President in 2013, my administration has worked with leaders across the world to reposition Kenya as a go-to destination in which the world can invest.
We have welcomed Kenya’s son Barack Obama, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan.
When I visited Chancellor Angela Merkel last year, we explored how best to deepen our trade partnership.
Last December, Volkswagen opened the very first car manufacturing plant in Kenya after an absence of over five decades, providing employment to a new generation of Kenyans.
I also discussed with UK Prime Minister Theresa May the many ways our two nations can strengthen relations post-Brexit.
It is through such positive and deep friendships that Kenya will be elevated to a middle–income country.
This also shows the role Kenya has assumed as an ambassador for Africa, providing solutions to global trade and security issues across the continent.
This is not the time to be protectionist. My vision for the nation’s enhanced role in the world will ensure the economy is grown through crucial foreign investment.
In 2015 alone, Kenya saw a 50 per cent rise in FDI projects.
Foreign investment was $500 million in 2013, but rose to $990 million in just one year.
Last year, Kenya lept 28 places on the World Bank’s ranking for Ease of Business.
My message is clear – Kenya is open for business, and friendship, for the benefit of all.
Africa needs foreign powers to invest directly into our economies that crucially enables both sides to grow exponentially and ensure economic parity in our global relations.
Our vital role as a mediator in the South Sudan peace process helped to end a 17-month civil war that had killed 50,000 people and displaced two million more, shows a maturity of outlook and leadership prerequisite to be a credible voice at the top table.
As Donald Trump has repeatedly stated about his role as President of America, as the President Kenya, it is my duty to put Kenya first, Africa second but also embrace the world.
Modernity has taught us to recognise the interdependence of the three.
My dream of continuing Kenya’s journey of transformation to build a peaceful, prosperous and competitive country will lay the foundation to support Kenyans, and our African cousins, for generations to come.
Adding Kenya’s voice to the rich tapestry of global cooperation gives hope that we can not only elevate our own country, but also show countries around the world the great gains that can be harvested through a spirit of partnership.
Mr Kenyatta is the President of Kenya