It is a great honour for me to welcome all of you here in Nairobi ‘the green city under the sun’, but also to welcome you to “Magical Kenya” more broadly, “home of champions”, birthplace of the late Wangari Maathai, and home to two time Olympic Gold medalist, Mr. Eliud Kipchoge, the only human to run a sub-2 hour marathon, a man who inspired us to believe that “No human is limited”. These are but some of the legends that Kenya has offered the world, and who continue to push the boundaries of change, inspire us to make the “impossible possible” and to believe that indeed we can change the world.
So, it should come as no surprise that Kenya was selected as the launchpad to spark our development revolution as we seek to build a future smart Africa and a future smart UNDP.
Now, for many of you, coming back to Nairobi is “a coming back home”, several RRs do call Kenya home, others have served here for many years in different organizations and capacities, indeed our very own Administrator spent 10 years here, which makes it rather odd for someone like me who has only been here for less than 3 years to be the one welcoming you back to Kenya. But as your host, I say Karibuni, welcome, bienvenue, Hamdila Ala el Salama, Bem Vindo, Bienvenido
Cabinet Secretary, I believe I speak for everyone here when I say Kenya has made us all proud, both regionally and globally, bringing Africa’s voice so effectively on the global stage on so many issues, including matters peace and security. The recent Speech by H.E. Amb. Kimani to the UN Security Council on the Ukraine/Russia conflict left many of us “speechless”, when he so eloquently reminded us that “a world in which multilateralism is “on its deathbed”, is a world where norms are disregarded and might makes right,” so thank you to Kenya for continuing to stand up and defend “multilateralism and the principles enshrined in our Charter. Kenya’s tenure on the UNDP Executive Board for the coming 3 years and as Bureau Member and VP for Africa in 2022 is another opportunity for UNDP and Kenya to take the partnership to new heights through our apex governance mechanism, especially as our new Country Programme is due for approval in June.
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I can think of many other reasons why Kenya was selected to host this edition of the RBA RR Cluster Meeting, last held here in 2004, as we together curate, co-create and re-imagine what a future smart Africa would look like, so let me share 3 thoughts as to why:
- Kenya is known as the “Silicon Savanna”, being a well-known hotbed of innovation both regionally and globally, just yesterday we were able to showcase to our Administrator and Regional Director some of the nextgen innovations coming out of this great country being supported by our dynamic Accelerator Lab.
- Kenya, like many countries on the continent, has a large youthful population which presents it with a great opportunity to harness that demographic dividend. The challenge what can we as UNDP do to help countries reap the benefits. We believe that with our UNDP Kenya Youth Sounding Board (YSB) that our Administrator had a chance to engage with yesterday is one model and we look forward to sharing more about that over the coming days as Ahunna has given you all marching orders to establish similar models.
- Kenya is a recognized as a global sustainable development champion, boasting a very progressive constitution with Sustainable Development at its very core and host to UNEP and HABITAT, so as we grapple with the challenges of climate change and resilience, again key elements of future smart Africa, we believe that Kenya has much to offer.
So for those of you who would have liked to pitch and compete to host this year’s edition of our cluster meeting, competition would have been fierce, that said, and while I would love to say that we won the bid to host, solely on the merits and credentials of Kenya and the UNDP Kenya family in Kenya, the hard truth was that it was “convenient” as our Administrator was going to be here anyway!
Now before I close, and speaking of competition, a quick word on AFCON, first I congratulate the lions of Teranga for securing their very first, much deserved and well-earned title, but Egypt shall avenge in our upcoming rematch to see which of us will qualify for the world cup.
I wish you all an enjoyable, memorable, and productive meeting where hopefully we don’t have to say “your on mute” and if there is anything we can do to make your experience here more pleasurable, Hakuna matata, please do not hesitate to ask, we will gladly oblige on a full cost-recovery basis!
At this point, it is my pleasure to invite our intrepid, visionary, and inspirational leader, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, the Regional Director for Africa to share her vision for Africa and how the coming days will chart the way forward to get there.