Kenyan President William Ruto’s administration is taking shape, with nominees to Cabinet embracing his regional agenda.
This week, a special commission of the National Assembly had, on Friday, examined more than half of the candidates. The team of 22 technocrats and politicians will take office once the National Assembly approves their appointment and their official appointment is made by President Ruto. They championed the president’s policies, including facilitating the movement of goods by reducing congestion on key corridors.
Once approved and sworn in, the new Cabinet is expected to address various challenges affecting East Africa’s largest economy.
Some of these challenges include drought which has claimed lives in parts of the country, high cost of living, insecurity and high cost of doing business.
Trade, energy and infrastructure candidates, who appeared before the 15-member parliamentary committee chaired by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, cited roles likely to spill over Kenya’s borders.
CS Trade, Investment and Industry candidate Moses Kuria said he would engage other trade ministers from Africa to see the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) passed. extended by the United States.
The United States will host the meeting of Sub-Saharan Trade Ministers and Senior Officials in December to discuss expanding trade and investment relations and AGOA implementation.
Kenya enjoys substantial duty-free access to the US market through AGOA, a preferential trade program for sub-Saharan African countries, but it expires in September 2025.
Trade pacts with Africa
Kuria is also expected to lead Kenya’s negotiations with the US government, which is seeking bilateral and multilateral trade pacts with Africa.
Official data shows that exports to the United States jumped 47% to 38.8 billion shillings in the first half of the year thanks to increased clothing sales. Kuria’s immediate focus regionally is to resolve ongoing trade wars with neighboring Uganda over milk, sugar, poultry products, among other issues.
Mr. Kuria accompanied President William Ruto to Uganda and Tanzania where issues of trade barriers were discussed.
“Uganda’s Minister of Commerce told me something profound; that every week Uganda imports a million day-old chicks from Kenya that eventually mature, how can you refuse eggs from your own chicken? ‘” Mr. Kuria asked in a tweet after his recent meeting in Uganda.
The sale of products made in Kenya to Uganda fell slightly to Ksh 36.2 billion ($298 million) during the review period from Ksh 36.3 billion ($299 million) during the same semester last year.
Uganda imports from Kenya
Kampala’s list of imports from Kenya has shrunk over the years as investors set up factories in the country to manufacture products previously imported from Nairobi, including edible oils and cement.
Asked about the export processing zones (EPZ), Kuria said the ministry will set up aggregation centers in each county to help people aggregate their exports, saying it will promote value addition and export.
Regarding the export of Kenyan goods abroad, he said his ministry would increase the number of commercial attachés.
“We will increase commercial attachés all over the world. They will be more than ambassadors,” he said.
The ministry will seek out manufacturers who have left Kenya and give them a plan to support their businesses.
Warehouses in key markets
Regarding the EAC market development plans, Kuria said the ministry will endeavor to set up warehouses in key markets that will sell only Kenyan products, adding that one of them will be in the DRC.
On the issue of rising edible oil prices, he said the ministry will open up the market to enable small businesses and individuals to be able to manufacture and import oil.
Kipchumba Murkomen, a candidate for Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Works, said he would work with various agencies to set up a camera-assisted electronic policing system that will be used to collect fines for code breaches. of the road.
“We are going to deploy the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) so we won’t need the analogue way of handling discipline on our roads,” he said.
It also pledged to strengthen technological infrastructure along border points to reduce truck congestion along the Northern Corridor. He pointed out that congestion along the Malaba border has been caused by poor technological networks used by the Kenya Revenue Authority to clear trucks.
Customs clearance of goods
“Because of the technology used sometimes even the internet is used. We will be able to work with the relevant Ministries of Finance and the Kenya Revenue Authority to ensure that they put in place modern technology for the clearance of goods,” Murkomen said.
“If approved, I will ensure that the Kenya National Highways Authority puts in place the latest technology to ensure that the weighing of goods is expedited.”
For a long time, the Busia and Malaba border posts have been characterized by endless lines of trucks stretching up to 25 km along the Bungoma-Malaba highway, delaying the free movement of goods between Kenya and Uganda. .
Murkomen proposed the construction of a parking space at the border of Busia and Malaba to reduce congestion.
Abuse of Kenyans in the Gulf
Regarding the mistreatment of Kenyans, especially in the Gulf, SC Foreign Affairs candidate Dr Alfred Mutua said that if nominated he would make his first trip to Saudi Arabia to try to address the issue mistreatment of Kenyans seeking work in the Middle East.
He also promised to involve the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in investigating the deaths of Kenyans in the Gulf.
“It’s a shame that we lost 85 Kenyans in the last three months, especially in Saudi Arabia. We need to send the message that no Kenyan will die overseas and the government is not doing anything about it,” Dr Mutua said.
Corruption allegations have also been made against some of the candidates.
Davis Chirchir, a former Department of Energy and Petroleum CS, was suspended in early 2015 over allegations related to the printing of 2013 election materials in the infamous Chicken Gate scandal. He was later cleared by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
Restructure the energy sector
Candidate CS told the committee that he plans to restructure Kenya’s power sector from generation, transmission and distribution by working with key players such as KenGen, Kenya Power, Kenya Power Electricity Generating Company and Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) to ensure consumers benefit from competitive rates while using renewable energy sources as opposed to expensive thermal energy.
“We have to make sure that we supply our electricity to the grid at the right cost,” Chirchir said.
Kenya currently has 3,100 MW of installed capacity with renewable energy driven by geothermal, wind, solar and biomass accounting for 81% of the energy produced.
“We need to produce more from geothermal energy where we have more resources. We are told we have up to 10,000 MW,” he added.
President Ruto unveiled his 22 cabinet nominees on September 27, two weeks after he was sworn in.
Only one Cabinet Secretary, Simon Chelugui, Kenya Labor and Social Care CS (and now Ruto’s Cooperative CS candidate), who served under the former administration, was retained in the new formation. Dr. Monica Juma, current CS for energy was retained, but appointed as national security adviser, a new position at the same level as the Cabinet.
The Cabinet candidates selected so far have a net worth of around Ksh 10.02 billion (around $82.5 million), with First Cabinet Secretary-designate Musalia Mudavadi accounting for 40% of that figure.
Sixteen of the 22 CS nominees selected between Monday, October 17 and Friday, October 21 are multi-millionaires, with most attributing their wealth to real estate investing, government pay, stock investing and savings.
The 14th candidate Mithuka Linturi, CS for Agriculture, who was considered on Friday, claims to be worth 1.2 billion shillings.