The 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has been underway from 13th September, 2022 and will conclude on the 26th following a series of High-Level meetings, debates and statements from different global organizations and Heads of States including our very own President, His Excellency William Ruto, who is scheduled to take the stage on the afternoon of the 21st September, 2022. Kenya is a Member State of good standing in the United Nations (UN) ecosystem and her contributions at this year’s UNGA will be worth paying attention to. Between 2021 and this year, Kenya has made commendable strides in a few key areas that make up the agenda of the 77th session of UNGA.
Kenya has had a fantastic run since the previous 76th session of the UNGA and will confidently take the stage at this year’s session with a lot to celebrate while firmly training its eyes on the next set of goals.
Maintenance of International Peace and Security
Kenya’s term at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) began in January 2021 with a commitment to consolidate and voice Africa's position in the Security Council. During her turn at the rotational Presidency of the Council in October, Kenya was able to make significant contributions to international peace and security processes by: presiding over a High-Level Open Debate of the Council on the Cooperation between the United Nations, and Regional and Sub-regional Organizations (African Union), under the theme of “Renewing Solidarity to Successfully Deliver Peace and Security in a Changing Conflict Environment”; presiding over a ministerial open debate on the Great Lakes Region to support a renewed commitment of the Great Lakes countries in seeking sustainable solutions to the root causes and drivers of conflict, consolidating efforts towards re-energizing and invigorating discussions on the Middle East, especially on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In an unprecedented fashion, Kenya also led the Security Council on a field visit to Mali and Niger in the Sahel region to better understand the contextual issues that catalyze conflict and terrorism in the region.
Kenya is strategically positioned in ensuring that the interests of the region and the world at large are protected and has mediated various peace talks in the region including chairing the African Union Peace and Security Council. It is no wonder then that Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta was appointed by the East African Community as a facilitator of peace talks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Northern Ethiopia, a position which his successor has asked him to continue holding. Through the ‘Nairobi Peace Process’ Kenya has been mediating the peace talks between the DRC government and rebel groups aimed at ending conflict in the country.
Information and Communications Technologies for Sustainable Development (Resolution 76/189)
Under this agenda, Kenya is a trailblazer and has been charting the path for Africa and the world in a number of aspects. Kenya is presently leading the way in Africa in terms of renewable energy, which is primarily sourced from hydropower, geothermal, bioenergy, wind and solar energy. Concerted efforts from the government and private sector have seen numerous investments made into development of diverse energy technologies that have culminated in renewable energy sources accounting for approximately 70% of Kenya’s installed electrical capacity. According to the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) "Renewables 2022 global status report", in 2021, off-grid solar sales equaled 7.4 million units on the continent with Kenya leading the way in sales with 1.7 million units sold, positioning the country as having the highest number of solar power systems installed per capita in the whole of Africa. In June 2022, Kenya also assented to Finance Act No. 22 of 2022 which introduced a corporate tax incentive for companies operating carbon market exchange a move which positions the country to increase its participation in global carbon markets.
Embracing the sustainability agenda has since seen Kenya Go Blue in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 14: sustainable use of the oceans. In June 2022, Kenya in concert with Portugal, co-hosted The United Nations Ocean Conference 2022 (UNOC22) with Kenya holding a key side event on “Advancing the Blue Economy in Kenya: innovation in economic growth through value chains strengthening, integrated land-sea planning and management and maritime security, in an inclusive, participatory and sustainable manner.”
Technology and Innovation
Kenya is no stranger to tech and innovation, with Nairobi being dubbed as the “Silicon Savanah” due to its robust tech ecosystem. For context, as of January 2022, there were 11.75 million social media users, 23.35 million internet users, 63.48 million cellular mobile connections and a 42% internet penetration rate. The growth of technology uptake in the country is laudable and its adoption during the just concluded general elections have been credited in improving the accountability, verifiability and transparency of the highly contested electoral process. Nairobi’s conducive tech climate has also welcomed Visa as it launched its first innovation hub in Africa, and Microsoft as it launched its African Development Centre.
Kenyan startups have also been doing well and have managed to raise nearly one billion dollars in the first half of 2022, surpassing what the country secured last year. Not forgetting that MPESA entrenched Kenya as the global leader in mobile money transfer services resulting in widespread access to financial services
International Trade and Development (Resolutions 1995 (XIX) and 76/190)
Kenya has made massive investments in the port facilities within the country that are set to position it as a major African trade hub. The Mombasa Port currently serves Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia South Sudan, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Tanzania. September 2021 saw the Kenya maritime waters within the Indian Ocean being re-designated from the High-Risk Area (HRA) by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a move that will now save Kenya and East Africa millions of dollars in insurance and security expenses and facilitate the return of shipping companies that had suspended their operations along the route.
Kenya has had a fantastic run since the previous 76th session of the UNGA and will confidently take the stage at this year’s session with a lot to celebrate while firmly training its eyes on the next set of goals. As a nation of hardworking people, we are cognizant of the fact that no one claps for you twice for the same achievement. God bless Kenya.