Speech by our Ambassador Aline KUSTER-MENAGER on the occassion of the Bastille Day Celebrations 14 July 2019
Today marks an anniversary. Just a year ago, my husband Jean-Louis and I arrived in Nairobi. We were indeed full of enthusiasm and curiosity for this beautiful country.
For my part, I was ready to take the challenge I was tasked with, of strengthening our bilateral relationship and also prepare President Macron’s visit.
This visit, the first of a French President to Kenya, marks a turning point in the relationship between our two countries.
It brings a strong political dimension to an already well-established presence in the cultural field -the Alliance Française is celebrating 70 years in Kenya this year- and economic field (Photo 4 Peugeot State House) -there are more than a hundred French companies present in Kenya, making France the third largest foreign investor.
Not to forget our commitment to the country’s development through AFD’s interventions.
This visit also reflects Kenya’s recognition as an important actor for peace, security and development on the continent and a reliable partner on global issues and the protection of the multilateral system.
Whether it is with regards to climate change, global health, biodiversity protection, forests, the blue economy or sustainable development objectives, Kenya’s voice matters. President Macron has found in President Uhuru Kenyatta, a committed leader, in line with his own vision. The image of our two heads of state presiding side by side at the One Planet Summit and opening the United Nations Annual Assembly for the Environment eloquently embodied this proximity. It was a reassuring and highly symbolic moment : while the multilateral system is fragile and even threatened, the world needs leaders who lead the way for collective action. In June 2020, the next Africa-France Summit on Sustainable Cities will provide Kenya with a new opportunity to reflect on sustainable development and solutions.
Partnership was the cornerstone of the President’s visit, and also the will to increase the exchange of skills and talents between our two countries, in all sectors:
with regard to the economy, we are convinced that French companies can be fully involved in Kenya’s development agenda under the Big Four, in particular by investing in major infrastructure projects and providing their know-how in their management
with regard to education, we want to intensify the relations between our universities and our student exchanges; through a stronger involvement of our education system and our companies we would like to bridge the gap including in the field of vocational training. Commitments have been taken to this effect.
- Finally, in terms of Blue economy, we hope to meet Kenya’s expectations.
With these objectives, my roadmap and that of my team is clear: to implement the commitments made, by making progress on institutional issues (for example, the negotiation of an agreement on mutual recognition of diplomas or the implementation of the agreement on mobility) and implementing concrete projects.
We know that there is strong political will on the Kenyan side to build on the momentum created by the visit and we welcome this.
Less than 4 months after the visit, the first tangible results and progress on major infrastructure projects have been achieved, which will be made official by the forthcoming visit of the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire.
I would like to conclude these remarks by emphasizing the importance of mobility of skills. Indeed it is also through such human exchanges and sharing of talents that we will further strengthen our relationship.
There is considerable scope for progress in this area. The issue of language, often highlighted as set-back, must no longer be an obstacle - we are certainly happy that at least 40,000 Kenyans are studying French, including in pilot primary schools, but our universities also have an increasingly rich supply of English-language education adapted to all Kenyan students
Here are a few examples which highlight this ambition:
2 kenyan students in Beçanson studying mecatronics on a double diploma exchange programe
Peris in Brest on an exchange program on maritime affairs and the State at Sea
Fiona Mumoki and Gladys Musomtai at University of Pretori and ICIPE respectively under the l’Oréal Women in Science program.
And finally a group photo of the EU ambassadors in State House after a fruitfull meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta, because Europe matters to France.
A very big Thank you to all our sponsors who made all this possible. We are greatful for your continued support and we hope for continued partnership in next year’s celebrations as well.
Peugeot, Yves Rocher, Bolloré transport and Logistics, Total, Amethis, Thales, Kenol Kobil, Carrefour, CMA CGM, Camusat, Allianz Insurance, Razel Construction, Sogea Satom, Airbus helicopters, Sanofi, Veolia, Egis Kenya, Egis Eau, Engie, HM Clause, Valourec, AGS, Toyotsu AutoMart, Kingsway Tyres, Gras Savoye Insurance, General Electric, Siemens, Urysia, CFAO, Grenier à Pain, Nas Servair, Accor, Amazing Tents and Decor, Kenya Nuts, Mount Gay Rum, Ocea, Polycare Wellness Centre.