Highlights of the seventh State of the Nation Address by H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta

November 13, 2020 - Reading Time: 14 minutes - By The Vellum Team

President Uhuru Kenyatta delivered the State of the Nation Address, he reported on the measures taken and the progress achieved in the realization of Kenya’s National Values in line with Article 132 of the Constitution then he submitted to the National Assembly reports on the Progress made in fulfilling the international obligations of Kenya and on the State of National Security.

In his address he said that the global health disruptions necessitated the rescheduling of the Address for about 6 months. 

1.Gratitude to the Legislature

The President commended both Houses for their support for the measures sought by the Executive with regard to the National Emergency Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic and for approving of all statutory instruments issued under the Public Health Act and the Public Order Act, as part of the containment measures rolled-out to stem the spread of COVID-19.

He also thanked the National Assembly for the expeditious consideration of nominees to various state offices including Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Permanent Representatives to Kenya’s mission abroad. He appreciated the latest state nominee being Kenya’s inaugural Data Commissioner who was duly considered by the House.

2. Huduma Number

The President confirmed that the roll out of the unique personal identification number (Huduma Namba), is fully on course.

3. Priority Bills

He urged Parliament to prioritize the consideration of various pending Bills such as:

  • The National Aviation Management Bill – Which will anchor the turnaround of the National carrier, Kenya Airways.
  • The Statute Law Miscellaneous (Amendments) Bill
  • The Business (Amendment) Bill No. 2 of 2020, and 
  • The proposed legislation on the administration of referenda and on enhancing governance and on deepening Kenya’s anti-corruption efforts.

4. COVID-19

At the start of the year, Kenya was invaded by locusts threatening to decimate our food baskets and the livelihood of millions of our farmers and sooner, a new disease (Covid-19) was emerging, devastating millions of people and it has led to an unprecedented loss of life, global economic slow-down; the postponement of major cultural, religious, political, and sporting events including the 2020 Olympic Games.

The President said that on 28th February 2020 through Executive Order No. 2 of 2020, he established a framework to upscale and co-ordinate Kenya’s preparedness and response to the Coronavirus threat and Kenya’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on 13th March 2020. Following that announcement, the Government put in place a series of public health measures, to stem the spread of COVID-19 such as:

  • Kenya’s first ever nationwide curfew since independence
  • The restriction of movement into and out of the most affected counties
  • The shutdown of learning institutions
  • A ban on public and social gatherings
  • Restrictions on the number of passengers in public service vehicles among other containment measures.

Health institutions also ramped up their preparedness by training their staff on management of the disease; by creating isolation areas; and by procuring and deploying the relevant equipment and medication. 

Despite all these efforts, as of Thursday morning 12th November 2020, Kenya reported a total of 66,723 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 and a total of 1,203 deaths. 23 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours.

The COVID-19 Pandemic began against the backdrop of a steady economic growth rate of 5.4% in 2019 and when it became apparent that the Pandemic threatened to erode the significant economic gains Kenya had made in 2019; on 25th March 2020, the President announced State interventions to cushion Kenyans against adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The measures warranted the National Exchequer to forgo taxes amounting to Ksh. 176 Billion annually. These tax measures included:

  • The temporary suspension of the listing with Credit Reference Bureaus (CRB) of any person, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) and corporate entities whose loan account had fallen overdue or was in arrears;
  • The immediate reduction of VAT from 16% to 14%;
  • 100% Tax Relief of all persons earning up to Ksh. 24,000.00
  • Reduction of Pay as You Earn from 30% to 25%;
  • Reduction of Corporation Tax from 30% to 25%;
  • All Ministries were to pay at least Ksh. 13 Billion of the verified pending bills so as to improve liquidity in the economy and ensure businesses remained afloat by enhancing their cash flows; with the private sector also being encouraged to clear all outstanding payments owed within itself;
  • The Kenya Revenue Authority was directed to expedite the payment of all verified VAT refund claims amounting to Ksh. 10 Billion within 3 weeks; or in the alternative, allow for the offsetting of Withholding VAT, in order to improve cash flows for businesses;
  • That Ksh. 6.0 billion from the Universal Health Coverage kitty was to be immediately appropriated strictly towards supporting counties and the recruitment of additional health workers to support in the management of the spread of COVID-19;
  • The lowering of the Central Bank Rate (CBR) to 7.25% from 8.25% so as to prompt commercial banks to lower interest rates applicable to their borrowers, and thereby availing much needed affordable credit to MSMEs across the Country;
  • The lowering of the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) to 4.25% from 5.25% so as to provide additional liquidity of Ksh. 35 Billion to commercial banks in order to directly support borrowers that were distressed as a result of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • That the Central Bank of Kenya was to provide flexibility to banks with regard to the requirements applicable to loan classification and provision of loans that were performing as at 2nd March 2020.

The President added that his Administration, with the support of Parliament, further initiated an 8-Point Economic Stimulus Programme amounting to Ksh. 56.6 Billion. The major objective of the programme was to return the economy to the growth trajectory it was on pre-Corona by increasing demand for local goods and services, cushioning vulnerable Kenyans, securing household food security for the poor, and creating employment and incomes. 

The President told Parliament that his Administration set aside Ksh. 5 billion for the operationalizing the Credit Guarantee Scheme and that the Recovery Programme also targets to revamp a broad spectrum of economic sectors by hiring 5,000 health workers and 11,000 interns; even as it supports teachers. The Programme further seeks to create 100,000 job opportunities for the youth, besides implementing a subsidized farm input scheme for vulnerable households. Part of the resource allocated, will be utilized on the ongoing fabrication of 250,000 school desks, crafted by local artisans.

5. Universal Health Coverage

On health care, the President stated that the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought to the fore the urgent need for Kenya to upscale the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage pillar of the Big Four Agenda. The pillar seeks to eradicate the ‘poverty of dignity’ and transition the nation into an era where no Kenyan will be forced to sell their land in order to settle their medical bills.

Last year, he informed Parliament that the National Government, in partnership with the County Governments, was piloting the Universal Health Care programme in the Counties of Nyeri, Machakos, Kisumu and Isiolo in preparation for a roll out nationwide. In his 7th address, the President reported that the pilot programme for Universal Health Care was successfully implemented, and that out of it they have isolated critical learning points that have informed enhancements to his Administration’s health policy priorities, going forward.

The President reported that he launched the Biometric Registration for the Universal Health Coverage Scheme two weeks ago and that his Administration is instituting far-reaching reforms of NHIF as its perfects the medical insurance scheme.

6. Mental Health

The President noted that is an increase in mental illness across the country and around the world. In response to that, he has established an Office in the Ministry of Health, with the full responsibility of spearheading our national response to this latest disruption to our social order and our nation’s wellness.

The President added 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. The East Africa’s Premier Mental Health Facility will now offer training and research in psychiatry, specialized psychiatric services, forensic psychiatric services, child and adolescent mental services and substance abuse related and addictive disorders treatment and rehabilitation services.

7. Education

In January last year, the Government successfully commenced the roll-out of the Competency Based Curriculum. As at the end of 2019 calendar year, the Government had been able to achieve a textbook to pupil ratio of 1:1 for grades 1 through to 3.

The President added that the journey to replace the 8.4.4 system with the new fit-for-purpose curricula, is still underway.

President Uhuru said that as a parent and a grandparent, he shares in the pain and frustration of most parents in having their children home for nearly an entire year. However, as a responsible Government the health and safety of the Children comes first.

The President said that the gradual and phased reopening of schools that began with the examination classes is being carefully monitored at all levels so as to ensure that our Young Kenyans are safe and secure as they continue preparing for their national examinations.

The Ministry of Education will, within 14 days from the date hereof announce the 2021 Academic Calendar, with all other classes expected to resume learning in January 2021.

During the last State of the Nation Address, the President said that no child should be left behind, meaning no child would be denied the right to access quality education. Today he reported Parliament that for the second year running, the government has been able to achieve a transition rate of 100% from primary to secondary school.

The next frontier in the quest to improve education in Kenya is enhancing quality of education, both in terms of physical structure as well as content. It is evident that the country’s public day and boarding secondary school infrastructure is overstretched and as a result students are suffering congestion in their classes and dormitories.

Through a combination of interventions both policy and financial involving the Ministry of Education, County Governments and Members of the National Assembly through the National Government Constituency Development Fund, we shall have the necessary resources to address the infrastructure gap in our education sector conclusively within the next 24 months.

The President then urged legislators to re-prioritize the use of the discretionary funds under their oversight, to respond to the immediate and short-term needs of our learners. There is an urgent need for construction and equipping of more dormitories, classes to facilitate further ease of learning. Significant financial resources will be deployed towards the construction of at least 12,500 new classrooms and related school facilities. 

The President announced that the Ministry of Education and the Ministry Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development will by 1st December, 2020 issue a new set of building guidelines for school infrastructure that allows the use of appropriate and cost effective building technologies suited to the varied geographies of Kenya. The intention of these guidelines will be to achieve transparent and standardised bills of quantity that will guarantee value for taxpayers’ money. 

8. Big Four Agenda

In today’s Address, The President’s report focused on the four areas within the broad framework of the Big Four. He said that the Big Four is not a project but an economic development strategy or framework, which he has used to organize government delivery. The philosophy of the BIG FOUR is anchored in four intentions which we have pursued relentlessly this year, despite the pendency of COVID-19. 

  • The first one is liberating our urban poor from the ‘poverty of dignity’ caused by poor housing and inadequate services.
  • The second is transitioning our young people from being ‘earners of wages’ to ‘owners of capital’.
  • The third is building a holistic base of human capital that is food secure and health assured. 
  • The fourth is jump-starting the shift from being a country of net consumption to one of production. 
  1. On the ‘poverty of dignity’, the President said that it is a shame that, almost sixty years after independence, a majority of Kenyan urban dwellers live in a ‘dignity poor’ environment. It is the government’s intention is to reverse this, and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services is a pilot project that has been successful in rolling back the frontiers of this urban indignity.

He also said that the Government has 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.

The President also reported on the ongoing reforms in the land sector to improve access to land as a factor for development. The National Land Titling Programme continues and so far 4.5 million titles have been issued in the 7 years since 2013; as compared to the 6 million issued from 1963 to 2013.

The government is digitizing all the land records across the Republic and this national endevour is anchored under the National Land Information Management System (NLIMS). The system is designed to enhance security of land records, improve accessibility, and dramatically reduce the cost of land transactions.

He called on all stakeholders, including the Law Society of Kenya, to embrace and support this positive transformation that removes land information management in Kenya from its current 19th century systems and standards, those of the 21st century.

Other reforms in the sector include the formulation of the Sectional Properties Bill to bring legal clarity to the ownership of sectional properties. This Bill is in its final stages before introduction in this esteemed House.

  1. ‘Earners of wages’ to ‘Owners of capital’.: The President said that the second intention under the Big Four during this reporting period has also been about young people. It is his Government’s objective to shift young people from being ‘earners of wages’ to ‘owners of capital’. 

He said that the majority of the skills required are with respect to blue-collar jobs that need young people who understand the basics of the digital economy and who have the capacity to deploy both knowledge and ingenuity as they seek to solve practical problems. So far 430,598 students have enrolled into 182 technical/vocational training colleges across the Country.

The President told Parliament that last month he launched a Boda Boda Scheme meant to bring together 1.4 million riders in that sector, who collectively support 5.2 million families across the country. In aggregate, these riders make a total of Ksh 357 billion a year, which is more than the total disbursements to the 47 counties by the National Exchequer, which presently stands at Ksh 316 billion annually.

With these statistics in mind, it is clear that boda boda riders can come together and become owners of capital and the holders of major investments. The Government is encouraging them to engage in saving schemes and to work together in order to create a capital base that will enable them to own petrol stations, boda-boda assembly factories and other investments that will transform their lives.

It is in the spirit of shifting Kenyan youth to become ‘owners of capital’ that the government 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.

  1. The third intention under the Big Four during this reporting period has been to develop a holistic human capital base. The Government’s intention here is to expand Kenya’s health infrastructure and to guarantee that the individual is free from want and free from fear.

The President reported that the implementation of the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy is well underway and that they have also successfully reformed the Agricultural Inputs Subsidy Programme.

9. Ease of Doing Business

On ease of doing business, The President reported that he had commissioned a Transit Shed at the Kenya Railways, Nairobi, dedicated as the clearing point for cargo imported into the country by small traders, saving them the agony of delayed clearing of their trade wares.

The President proudly reported that Kenya is currently ranks at 56th globally and 3rd in Sub-Saharan Africa on the Ease of Doing Business Global Ranking Report, from a low of 136th globally in 2014. The country now ranks 1st in Protecting Minority Investors and 4th Globally on Getting Credit.

The Number of companies registered daily has increased by 500% from 30 in 2014 to 200 in 2020, and a daily average of 300 during the COVID-19 period. On aggregate, 400,000 companies are annually now registered in Kenya.

Nairobi City County has seen the waiver of Single Business Permits for all new businesses registered in Nairobi for the first 2 years of their operations, effective March this year. The Government also have waived the presumptive tax requirement for all new businesses.

The Government’s endeavor is to make Kenya the best country on the Continent in Doing Business by the year 2022.

10. Transport connectivity

President Uhuru told Parliament that the construction of the Nairobi Expressway Project is ongoing and last month he witnessed the signing of Africa’s largest Public-Private Partnership funded project – Nairobi-Mau-Summit Express Way.

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.

With regard to Ports and Bridges, the President said that the Lamu Port Berth-One is now complete, and the focus has shifted to bringing it into full operation for trans-shipment purposes. He added that his Administration is also in the final stages of installing the Likoni Floating Bridge- an 824m long bridge costing Ksh 1.96Billion 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.

On our Railways, the President said that two days ago he commissioned the Nairobi Commuter Railway Upgrades, which are set to dramatically change the public transport experience in Nairobi and across the Metropolitan Area. Additionally, the government is undertaking rehabilitation of the meter gauge railway line along various routes such as the Nairobi to Nanyuki route and the Naivasha to Kisumu route.

11. Energy Sector

The President reported that the last mile connectivity programme crossed the 7.2 million household connections mark and the Country is proceeding well towards the aspiration of 100% universal electricity access by 2022. He added that the Government has completed a National Geo-Spatial Mapping exercise that has allowed them to catalogue the wealth of Kenya’s natural resources. 

12. National Security

The President acknowledged that he is required to submit a report on the state of our national security pursuant to Article 240 of our Constitution and he said that the State of Kenya’s national security is STRONG.

Kenya is secure from the varied threats against it and he gave thanks and praises to the brave men and women of in Kenya’s security services.

The terrorists continue to be routed, arrested and prosecuted. Their plots are detected and disrupted before they can cause serious harm to more innocent Kenyans. The war against crime and criminality continues apace, driven by a National Police Service that continues to undertake technological, human resource and skills reforms to better serve Kenyans.

The President noted with concern that our region is increasingly becoming unstable as we are witnessing the escalating conflicts being caused by ethicized and regionalised competition for political power. He said that Kenya seeks to export its peace and pragmatism to the region.

The President said that the wages of bad politics is the people’s suffering and many neighbouring countries need a handshake.

He added that his Administration is implementing the following reforms in the security sector: 

  • the expansion of the National Police Service Control and Command Centre for surveillance and communication; 
  • and the successful launch of the Digital Occurrence Book Pilot Project.

He said that he unveiled the national security innovations exhibition at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Law Enforcement Academy in Manyani, Taita Taveta County. This was a youth-driven innovative project aimed at leveraging on technology to address problems facing citizens; from cyber security, crime, revenue collection gateways and social media communication to geospatial mapping, and resource consolidation and even small arms manufacturing.

13. Technology

The President said that Information communication technology has greatly improved access to government services and enabled Kenyan youth access job opportunities outside Kenya. To ensure Kenyans continue to enjoy these benefits, his Administration has increased access to ICT infrastructure and connectivity through the roll out of the Basic Voice Infrastructure in 67 sub-locations in un-served areas.

To improve access to information and e-government services, his Administration has also established 135 Constituency Innovation Hubs across the Country.

14. Trade

The President affirmed that the East African Community remains Kenya’s foremost trade and investment priority and that Kenya’s exports within the East African Community jumped to a six-year high in 2019.

On the African continent, Kenya and Ghana were the first countries to not only sign but also ratify the landmark agreement creating the African Continental Free Trade Area in March 2018. This agreement officially entered into force and became operational from 1st of July, 2020.

Kenya is also enjoying greater diplomatic goodwill and deeper international friendships and it is engaging the United Kingdom to evolve an arrangement that will guarantee it continued access to the United Kingdom Market, following its exit from the European Union. The country is also proactively consulting with the United States of America for a solution that will ensure Kenya’s continued access to the United States market beyond 2025 when the African Growth and Opportunity Act comes to an end without the need for that Pact’s further renewal.

The government also seeks to unveil new frontiers for mutually beneficial cooperation with countries in Eastern Europe, the Asia-Pacific Region, and the Caribbean.

15. International Relations

The President reported that last year, Kenya assumed the Presidency of the Organization of African Caribbean and Pacific states for the period 2019 – 2023. Kenya was also elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2021-2022 and the President thanked the African Union for its support, as well as the many friendly nations across the world who voted.

16. Building Bridges Initiative

The President urged all Kenyans to objectively, consider the recommendations therein and to engage in positive discourse with a view to effecting far-reaching changes to that will address the perennial challenges we have faced as a Nation – Negative Ethnicity; inclusion; equitable development and our fight against corruption.

The President said that like Moses in the Bible who sat at the top of Mount Nebo and saw the future that the people of Israel were about to Cross into the promised land, he too has seen Kenya’s future:

A Kenya where no one will ascend to a high public office on account of their tribe

A Kenya where no capable person will wallow in poverty because of poor governance

A Kenya Where our potential as a people will be exploited for the greatness of our nation

A Kenya Where we will all share equitably in the prosperity of our Nation.

The Future is bright

The Future is beckoning

The Future is here for us to take

Indeed, a future where truly our Justice will be our Shield and Defender

He added that as a people, Kenyans must seize this constitutional moment to ensure that they deliver to future generations of Kenyans the country that they deserve.

17. On the National Assembly vs Senate Beef

The President challenged the leadership of the two Houses of Parliament to strive, as much as possible, to resolve issues of concern by consensus building. He said that issues should only escalate to external dispute resolution processes as a last resort, doing otherwise, hurriedly compromises the legislative authority of the House. 

The President then concluded by re-iterating that: The State of our Nation is Strong, Steady, and Resilient. 

18. Reports submitted

The President then submitted to Parliament the three reports as required by the Constitution:

  • Report on All Measures Taken and Progress Achieved in the Realization of National Values;
  • Report on Progress made in fulfilling the International Obligations of the Republic; and
  • Report on The State of Security.
  • The Report on Ease of Doing Business Milestones 2017-2020; and
  • The Annual Report of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for the Financial Years 2017/2018, 2018/2019 and 2019/2020.
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