SPEECH BY AMB. (DR.) AMINA C. MOHAMED, EGH, CAV, CABINET SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DURING THE GRADUATION CEREMONY FOR FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER – CADETS – APRIL 7, 2017
Amb Monica Juma, the PS Foreign Affairs,
Dr Ludeki Chweya, Director General Kenya School of Government,
John Mwangi, Director Kenya School of Adventures and Leadership,
Amb Kelebert Nkomani, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Colleagues Foreign Affairs
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome you all to this graduation ceremony for the newly inducted 36 Foreign Service Cadets and 3 young Foreign Service Officers. I would also like to congratulate the Foreign Service Cadets, Class of 2017 for successfully completing the three month long induction course, which I understand was comprehensive and very rigorous.
Today’s graduation ceremony is the first Cadet graduation since the unveiling of the Foreign Service Academy in August last year and the second one since the establishment of the Foreign Service Institute in 2006. Indeed todays’ graduation, has scored a number of firsts including: the first Cadets to be trained under the Kenya Constitution 2010; the first Cadets to be trained in the newly established Kenya School of Government; and of course, the first to be trained during my tenure as the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I therefore wish to congratulate the staff of the Foreign Service Academy for this achievement.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the Foreign Service Academy for developing a comprehensive three month curriculum for the Cadets. I take note of the support the Heads of Directorate and members of Staff within the Ministry and officials from other State Departments and Agencies have provided to this three-month long induction training for the Cadets. You have done this within the context of tight work schedules and high demand on your time. This engagement is testament of the commitment we all have to building capacity of these young Foreign Service Officers.
I also wish to register my appreciation to all present today including retired Ambassadors, colleagues from diplomatic missions’ resident in Nairobi and colleagues from the Ministry. It is a clear demonstration of the commitment that we all have in collaborating on matters of mutual interest.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we all appreciate, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs discharges important responsibilities that are at the core of our national interest. These include promoting our economic and commercial interests abroad; negotiating treaties and agreements to protect and promote our national interests; playing an active role in conflict prevention and crisis management in our region and beyond, managing our bilateral relations as well as working with international and multinational organizations.
These critical responsibilities require well trained officers who are knowledgeable enough to competently navigate an increasingly dynamic global environment. It is for this reason that the Ministry has continued to place great importance to the training of Foreign Service Officers
This has however been a journey for the Ministry. In the past, Officers joining the Ministry were trained ‘on the job’ after which they would be sent out for courses designed for junior diplomats offered by different institutions of learning. (Cabinet Secretary to talk about her experience as a Cadet in the Ministry).
The Ministry now has in place relevant programs offered through the Foreign Service Academy for newly employed officers, for staff on posting and capacity enhancement for serving officers. The Foreign Service Academy does this in collaboration with other government institutions and institutions of higher learning in Kenya including the University of Nairobi, Moi University and Jomo Kenyatta University. I must at this point single out the Kenya School of Government which has been a supportive partner in this journey, and was host to the training program for our Cadets. We are also keen to explore possibilities of partnerships with our development partners in building a strong team of professionals.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We recognize that profound changes have and are occurring in the field of diplomacy making the conduct of traditional diplomacy more complex, while adding significant new and demanding functions and activities to the diplomat’s portfolio. Moreover, rapid and accelerating changes in technology, especially communications technology, have further broken the frame of traditional diplomatic practice.
This is not to forget the ever changing international landscape of diplomacy. We are today facing the prospect of the rise of multipolarity as opposed to the unipolar world order that emerged after the fall of communism. We are also now witnessing the emergence of major transnational challenges the most important being climate change, cybercrime, terrorism and drugs trafficking. Globalisation is also coming under threat while the refugee and immigration crisis are worsening with the rise of populism in parts of the world.
These challenges are complex and underline the need for our officers to place a premium on more learning in order to broaden their horizons, sharpen their perspectives and keep abreast with unfolding dynamics. They call for cutting edge analytical skills as well as incisive negotiation capabilities. I note with satisfaction that the training programme for the Cadets addresses some of these needs. As you report to the Directorates that you have been deployed to, I urge you to apply what you have learnt during the last three months, keep an inquisitive mind and learn from the seasoned and experienced officers so as to enhance your skills set. It is also important that you enroll in academic programmes that will equip you for the conduct of diplomacy in the 21st century.
Fluency in at least one foreign language is an important skill that Foreign Service Officers need to be effective in their duties. The Foreign Service Academy has been working to equip Officers with basic language skills in some of the official languages of the United Nations. To the Cadets, I urge you to take up a foreign language if you don’t already have the skill, you will find it useful particularly during your tour of duty out of the country.
My concluding word to the graduands, therefore, is that the journey does not end but rather starts here. Looking into the future, the Foreign Service will require highly trained multi-disciplinary professionals capable of operating in a multitude of strategic, analytical, and programmatic environments. You have laid the foundation and I wish you well as you build on it.
Finally, I thank our partners who have supported us in training our officers. You are part of our success story and we look forward to continued collaboration in this effort moving into the future.