Good Evening my fellow Kenyans.
An eventful year for our Nation, and, indeed, for our families and communities, has drawn to a close. We thank God for his Grace, which he gives without limit even when we do not merit it.
I am as thankful, as is every Kenyan, for the care and consideration extended to us by our relatives, friends, good Samaritans; and even by those we may previously not have expected to come through for us.
On behalf of the Government, and my family, I send to you the best wishes for a happy, secure and prosperous 2019.
Never again should Kenyans fear for their lives because of politics. Last year, following a divisive and drawn out election period, we had fully developed a politics of division and discord. Kenyan lives were lost and millions of livelihoods were negatively affected as businesses suffered from the unrest.
We demonstrated our greatness as a people when we came together, three months into 2018, to shake hands as leaders, as communities and as citizens.
The world watched us, initially with concern for our stability but gradually in admiration of our pragmatism and patriotism. What we did to unite Kenyans is now turning into a lesson for many countries, both rich and poor, whose politics is dangerously dividing their citizens. I am proud to have personally shaken hands; and I am even more proud of the millions of Kenyans, who ensured that the act of a few leaders was mirrored in millions of handshakes and smiles for each other.
The resulting peace and calm is helping our economy return to stronger growth and has returned the focus to development for the sake of Kenyans. It is a clear demonstration that our dreams of prosperity as individuals, families, and as a Nation, are inseparable from our unity.
I, therefore, urge every Kenyan citizen, every business enterprise, every NGO, SACCO, Church and Mosque to commit to take, in Year 2019, concrete and practical steps to solidify the foundation of our unity. I urge you to reach out to one another, initiate social and cultural programmes that bring all Kenyans together irrespective of their ethnic, colour, religion place of origin.
In 2018, we learnt, yet again, that Kenya is highly regarded by the International Community. Here we initiate ideas with the power to change the world. Our hosting of the first ever “Global Conference on the Sustainable Blue Economy” was one such instance. At this unique meeting, virtually all governments in the world were represented alongside thousands of scientists, investors and researchers, all drawn to Nairobi to chart a new path of global opportunity and prosperity. It will lead to millions of new jobs all over the world, with many of them being created here in Kenya through the surge of interest in investment and engagement caused by our hosting of the conference.
Our building of bridges of reconciliation and social harmony here at home is mirrored by our foreign policy and shared purpose abroad. We are building strong and productive relationships with America, China, Japan, the European Union and our neighbours; all who recognise that our value as a partner is based on our enduring ability to unite and overcome our internal differences.
Even though we have far to go in achieving our potential, we are proud that Kenya is a force for good in the world. This capacity for being a pillar of goodness and generosity for the global community is also powerfully demonstrated by our brave and professional troops serving in peacekeeping and peace-building missions in other parts of the World.
We thank them for their sacrifices, which have made our country and the region safer, at great cost to the Nation and, indeed, to the individual soldiers. If you see a man or woman in uniform, take the time to thank them for their dedication and service to mankind.
In 2018, terrorists continued to target Kenya and Kenyans but with far less success due to the prevention and disruption of their plots. Our security services have continued working hard and intelligently. A big part of their success is coming from citizens stepping up to share information they have, while others take steps to completely delegitimise and de-glorify terrorism among its vulnerable targets for recruitment. As your President, I thank every man and woman who has played a role in our national campaign against violent extremism.
I urge every Kenyan in 2019 and beyond to remain vigilant. Let the authorities know if you see a suspicious person in your village or neighbourhood. Be aware of who is around you and do not allow terrorists or criminals to hide among us. Every citizen is required to protect our nation, our communities and our families.
We have every reason to be proud of being Kenyans. In 2018, we continued to show the world that we are one of the most talented peoples on earth. We, and the world, watched in amazement as Eliud Kipchoge again extended the bounds of human effort in the marathon. Other Kenyan men and women broke world records. We celebrated the Harambee Stars’ success, qualifying for the African Cup of Nations in 2019 — the first time in fifteen years that Kenya will be participating in the competition. What all these sportsmen and women have in common is talent, and also discipline and perseverance.
Millions of us will never get to break a world record in athletics or play professional rugby and be in a boxing championship fight. But we can all display the discipline and perseverance that will allow our talents to flower. Let 2019 be your year of focus and doing the hard work to get closer to your goals. Every Kenyan who achieves a personal goal, whether in academics, in business or in family life, grows Kenya.
In 2018, the national government and county governments showed that we are gaining a stronger understanding of Devolution and its transformative potential. I congratulate every County Government that delivered on its promises to the people, and applaud those that made strong efforts to embrace the Big Four Agenda, and areas of need such as water access, sanitation, early education, and infant mortality.
In the past year, we have learnt as a people that we can work together to fight corruption. Now people accused of serious economic crimes are no longer being able to claim that their personal challenge should be seen as representing their entire ethnic group. Thanks to our politics of unity, now alleged criminals have nowhere to hide and, as should be the case, have to carry their own cross.
Building on this momentum, we will in 2019 continue to work hard to investigate and prosecute cases. At the same time we will take steps to reform our policies and public financial management systems in order to remove any loopholes that wayward characters exploit.
In addition, my Administration will enhance the work of the Asset Recovery Agency to ensure that we aggressively seek court orders to freeze and confiscate assets such as bank accounts, vehicles, and real estate. Individuals charged with corruption offences will not be allowed to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth as court proceedings are ongoing. Once the suspects are convicted, the assets will be transferred to the Criminal Asset Recovery Fund, ready for use to finance projects and programmes that will improve the lives of Kenyans.
To win this war against corruption requires all of us to work together as a people, in appreciation of the fact that corruption is our common enemy. In this respect, I urge every Kenyan to reject bribery, and those who try and buy our favour through the use of monies gained from fraud. In the same spirit, all arms of government have to commit to work together against this enemy of development.
At this point, I must say how proud I am of the work of the multi-agency team, which has ensured that the scourge of examination cheating has almost been entirely eradicated from our education system. I also call upon colleges and universities to put in place stringent measures that will ensure that examination cheating does not take place in their institutions. We must eliminate all corrupt elements in our education system so as to ensure Kenya regains its recognition as country providing high quality globally competitive education.
We have commenced the implementation of the Big Four Agenda, namely affordable and decent housing, affordable healthcare for all, food and nutritional security, and manufacturing to create employment particularly for our youth. In 2019 we will begin the roll-out of free and compulsory primary and secondary education with 100% transition. We shall ensure that every child completes secondary school.
When schools re-open on the 3rd of January, learners in Elementary and Grades 1 through 3 will begin learning through a dynamic competence-based curriculum. Preparations for this will be more organised in 2019, and I expect the officials charged with this noble responsibility to work harder, and communicate better as we try to build up the leaders of tomorrow.
I also call upon colleges and universities to offer courses that are carefully tailored to ensure that their graduates are employable in terms of skills, knowledge and work ethic. We want Kenyans to have the necessary competencies that position them to be globally competitive, and to quickly find employment when they graduate.
I want to let every entrepreneur and person running a small business know that they are the backbone of our economy. We have not done as much as we should do to support you. In 2019, I promise you that my Administration will make every possible effort to take practical measures to make it easier for you to grow your business. We will explore policies across the range of government, including taxation, regulations, access to credit and measures to enable you adopt modern technology so as to enhance your productivity and competitiveness.
Combining the Big Four agenda with the empowering of the small business enterprises and educational reforms, plus the renewed politics of unity and combating corruption, we are putting our country on track to achieve the socio-economic goals in our National Vision 2030. As a people we seek nothing less than to eliminate poverty in all its forms.
My fellow citizens, let 2019 be a year of building bridges to one another, and bringing discipline and perseverance to our efforts. Let us respect and celebrate our differences, and use them to build a more vibrant citizenship. No Kenyan is an island, far removed and isolated from the needs and desires of the rest of the country.
As you plan to prosper as an individual, plan to do so in an honest way. Let your success not only bring benefit to you but to others around you as well.
Let 2019 be our Year for national revival and renewal; a year when we water the seeds planted in the preceding years so that they may sprout and grow into a strong and towering tree; a tree whose fruits are bountiful and enjoyed by each and every Kenyan.
It is my humble privilege, as the President of the Republic, to wish all Kenyans and our Brothers and Sisters across the World, a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Thank You and God Bless the Republic of Kenya.