President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday May 21 commissioned a new premise for Kenya’s Chancery at the Permanent Mission in Geneva, Switzerland.
President Kenyatta underscored the role played by Kenya’s permanent mission in Geneva in promoting the country’s interests at the global arena, adding that the mission has been effective in presenting Kenya’s vision and influencing global outcomes in the community of nations.
“Kenya, like other nations, must employ a range of strategic tools to leverage opportunities and manage risks in the current complex and interconnected global environment. In this context, high-level diplomacy is critical,” he said.
The President said Kenya’s strong presence in Geneva since 1995 has enabled the country to remain strategically engaged in multilateralism besides making significant contributions towards a better world.
“My presence here today to commission this chancery symbolizes our desire to boost Kenya’s image globally, consolidate Kenya’s relevance internationally, shape and strengthen our international footprint,” President Kenyatta said.
On Friday, the President, who is on an official visit to Switzerland, also commissioned Kenya’s new chancery in Bern.
The embassy is expected to enhance bilateral cooperation between Kenya and Switzerland, “especially in the areas of research, education, training, defence and hospitality”.
Even so, Parliament has advised against additional embassies due to cost.
The Parliament Budget Office, an advisory team, in December 2021 urged the Executive to cut the number of embassies and hire foreigners in efforts to lower the cost of rent and hosting diplomats abroad.
PBO observed that despite having 61 missions, including consulates and liaison offices, spread across the five continents, Kenyan envoys have failed to increase the country’s trade in those countries.
In particular, the team said despite the expansion of Kenya’s footprint across the globe, the destination of Kenya’s exports has remained narrow with only 12 countries accounting for 70 per cent of total exports in 2020.
The advisory team said in view of limited resources the government should consider reviewing foreign missions with a preference of appointing citizens of those countries to act on Kenya’s behalf.
At the time, the Ministry of Foreign affairs was seeking at least Sh5 billion annually for 15 years to buy properties so as to cut on the amount of money spent by foreign missions to pay rent.
However, the President said the government intends to own buildings housing Kenya’s diplomatic missions abroad as a way of integrating with the host countries and strengthening bilateral ties.
He commended Kenya’s Permanent Representative to United Nations Offices in Geneva Ambassador Cleophas Mailu and relevant government departments for working together to complete the building project on time and within the budget.
“As we celebrate this achievement today, I urge you all to continue flying Kenya’s flag higher recognizing that your achievements are Kenya’s achievements; and you should always endeavour to safeguard Kenya’s national image and interests wherever you are,” the President said.
Ambassador Mailu said President Kenyatta’s efforts in pursuit of what is best for the country is what enabled them to put up the new complex referred to as “House of missions”, which will also accommodate the missions of Namibia, Botswana, Ghana and Philippines.
“Kenya has never shied away from this responsibility and we promise to continue to buttress Kenya’s image, promote and protect our national interests now and in the future,” Ambassador Mailu said.
Also present at the event were Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, diplomats and permanent representatives of various nations at the UN offices in Geneva led by Ambassador Leopold Ismael Samba, the Permanent Representative of the Central African Republic and Dean of the African Group, and Ambassador Thaband Matjama, the Permanent Representative of Lesotho and chairperson of the African Group in Geneva.