Your Excellency Ambassador Elif Comoğlu ÜLGEN, Director General East and South Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representing the Government of Türkiye,

• Your Excellencies Ambassadors and Representatives of International Organizations in Türkiye,

• Distinguished Guests,

• Ladies and Gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to Kenya House this evening to celebrate our National Day with us. I am delighted yet truly humbled that you have honoured our invitation to join us on this momentous and glorious day for Kenya. I want to express my profound appreciation to my staff at the Embassy for working tirelessly to put this event together.

Fifty-nine years ago, Kenya emerged from decades of colonial rule and joined the community of nations as an independent and sovereign state, ready to chart its own political, social and economic destiny. The struggle for independence took varied forms across the war-diplomacy spectrum, through agitation and protests, blood and tears, conferences, and compromises. On this auspicious occasion, we celebrate the many men and women who made Kenya’s independence a reality through their vision, struggles and self-sacrifices, firmly believing that the generations after them would live in a peaceful, united and prosperous country.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the six decades of its existence as an independent state, Kenya has been on a nation-building project focused on forging a peaceful, stable, cohesive, and prosperous nation that contributes positively to the well-being of humanity. During this time, we have made great strides in all spheres despite numerous challenges.

Politically, Kenya has been consolidating its democratic institutions, as it entrenches the ambitious and progressive constitution it gave itself in 2010. The devolved system of government, in which decision-making and resources have been decentralized to the 47 counties, continues to flourish. Under this system, governance, planning and services have been taken closer to the people, ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources throughout the country.

This year witnessed a peaceful power transition to the Fifth Republic that stretched our social, political, and legal institutions to the limit. The new government under H.E. President William Ruto has focused its attention on further entrenching our democratic and constitutional gains, economic empowerment of the people and strengthening relations with other nations.

Economically, Kenya remains resolute on becoming an industrializing, middle-income country, providing a high quality of life for its citizens as espoused in its economic blueprint, Vision 2030. Substantial investment in transport and telecommunications has been undertaken, affirming Kenya's position as the regional hub and gateway to East and Central Africa.

Kenya is a member of the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), with a combined market of over 500 million people. It has an emerging middle-class population with an increasing demand for high-value goods and services. It has one of the highest internet access rates in Africa, with over 70% of its population having internet access, making it ideal for investment on an internet-driven and knowledge economy. It offers investment opportunities in various areas, including Energy, Financial Services, ICT, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, real estate, construction, and tourism.

In its endeavour to sustain economic growth, the new government has placed great emphasis on empowering the people economically through the “Bottom-up” model. This entails job creation, supporting small businesses and reducing the cost of living. The government has, within this framework, identified critical sectors through which this this vision will be realised, including Agriculture, MSME economy, Housing & Settlement, Healthcare, Digital Superhighway & the Creative Economy.

The agricultural sector is the mainstay of our economy, as it is critical for production food crops and other export crops. However, a prolonged drought, the worst in 40 years, and three years of absolute rain failure, has left over 4.5 million Kenyans in about 23 counties facing food challenges. While the short-term focus is on mobilizing emergency support for the populations experiencing food shortages, the government is intent on achieving food security in the long term through land irrigation, mechanization, and application of modern technologies.

To mitigate Climate Change, the government has established the Climate Change Council that will steer Kenya's climate action through stakeholder engagements coordinated in the presidency. Indeed, Kenya has been a leading voice in the climate change discourse; and during the recent 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, it played a prominent role in rallying the world towards more ambitious climate action.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Kenya continues to make positive contributions to regional and international affairs. As a member of the EAC, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU), it has been active in peace and security matters, as well as humanitarian missions and responses to pandemics. Kenya has deployed its mediation and peace-building capabilities in the Horn of Africa and other areas beset by intra-state conflicts, violent extremism, and illegal movement of small arms, amongst other challenges, to achieve lasting peace and security. During its tenure as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which is coming to an end this month, Kenya remained unequivocal in its quest for peaceful resolution of conflicts, with priority on regional peace, countering terrorism and violent extremism, support for peace operations and furthering the climate and security agenda.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we celebrate our National Day today, we note with appreciation that this is the tenth year since we opened our Embassy in Ankara. Whereas Kenya in Türkiye is just a decade old, and Türkiye in Kenya is slightly over five decades, Kenya and Türkiye go back over five centuries ago, with history recording the presence and activities of representatives of the Ottoman Empire in Kenya's coastal towns like Mombasa, Pate, and Siyu in the late 16th Century. Türkiye is today among the leading development partners for Kenya, and relations between the two countries are strong and mutually beneficial.

As a demonstration of our strong ties, there have been high-level reciprocal interactions between Kenya and Türkiye. Our immediate former president H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta made a state visit to Türkiye in 2014, followed by a reciprocal state visit to Kenya by H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in June 2016. President Kenyatta also made an official visit during the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in 2021. We look forward to more high-level interactions as the government of H.E. President William Ruto seeks to strengthen and deepen our relations with Türkiye.

Our cooperation covers a wide range of sectors, including Trade, Agriculture, Education, Health, Energy, as well as Peace and Security. The Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has been actively operating in Kenya, delivering projects in health, food, agriculture, livestock, and education. Various Turkish NGOs also provide health and emergency aid, for instance, the Maarif Foundation Schools, Yunus Emre Institute, Red Crescent, Anadolu Agency and Diyanet Foundation. Türkiye has supported Kenyan students in the higher education sector through scholarship programmes. Besides, Kenyan experts often participate in capacity-development programs in security, agriculture, education, and health conducted by various Turkish ministries and agencies.

Trade between Kenya and Türkiye has been growing steadily. There is, however, tremendous potential for improvement, and our two countries continue to explore new areas and additional mechanisms to increase the total trade volumes. On investment, several Turkish companies have invested in Kenya and, over time, become household names, including L.C. Waikiki and FLO shoe Retailing Company.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Kenya and Türkiye share a solid commitment to international peace and security. In the Horn of Africa region, where persistent instability has created an opportunity for terrorism and violent extremism to thrive, Türkiye has supported initiatives by regional states and organizations towards peace and stability.

The position of Türkiye as a force for global peace has been demonstrated by its relentless quest for a peaceful resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. We applaud Türkiye for its leading role alongside the UN, Russia, and Ukraine, in averting a global grain crisis through the Istanbul Grain Deal and quest for equality in the supply of grains especially to Africa.

Türkiye has also been at the forefront of repurposing the institutions of global governance, particularly its advocacy for reforms at the UN. Nothing captures this better than H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's clarity of thought in his famous "the world is bigger than five" call for a rethink of the global governance architecture. This call is essential in a world undergoing unprecedented challenges, including the resurgence of great power competition, transnational crimes, terrorism and violent extremism, pandemics, and climate change.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, as we celebrate our 59th Jamhuri Day, we rededicate ourselves to the vision and aspirations of the founders of our nation of a free, united, peaceful, and prosperous nation, a reliable partner, and a responsible and resourceful member of the international community.

I wish to conclude my remarks by once again, on behalf of the Kenya Embassy, my family and the Kenyan community in Türkiye, thanking you all for sparing your valuable time to be with us on this great occasion for our country. We invite you to sample some of the Kenyan cuisines that we have prepared for this occasion.

We wish you a pleasant time in your various endeavours, upcoming festivities, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2023.

Before I invite Ambassador ÜLGEN to make her remarks, may I request you to please fill your glasses and join me for a toast to the:

  • Unity and prosperity of Kenya,

  • Unity and prosperity of Africa,

  • Unity and prosperity of Türkiye,

  • Strengthened relations with Türkiye,

  • Peace, love and harmony in the world.

Thank you so much/Asanteni sana/Çok teşekkür ederim.

February 7 2023