The Executive Secretary, H.E. Eng. Mahboub Maalim, met the Permanent Secretaries of the Government of Kenya and briefed them on IGAD s programmes and activities with special emphasis on Kenyas benefits as a member of the regional body. The meeting was held on 6th April, 2009, at Harambee House, Nairobi, Kenya. It was chaired by Amb. Francis Muthaura, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President, Secretary to the Cabinet & Head of Civil Service. The Permanent Secretaries of various government ministries attended the meeting.
In his brief, the Executive Secretary noted that the IGAD region, with a population of 200 million people, had huge potential for agricultural and livestock production. However, the region was prone to hunger and received substantial food aid including 20% of the global school feeding programme. IGAD is currently implementing regional projects totalling over US$ 60 million dollars. The pipeline projects under 10th EDF amount to Euro 90 million and the EC Horn of Africa Initiative has higher budgetary estimates. Some of the regional programmes are hosted in the member states to decentralise operations.
The Executive Secretary underscored IGADs keen interest on national projects with a regional impact. The Isiolo-Moyale road is among such national infrastructure projects that IGAD listed as priority number one and sought technical and financial support. The African Development Bank (ADB) is now financing the project.
Kenya has economic and political gains from IGAD membership such as the peace dividends from the Somalia and Sudan peace processes. IGAD also facilitates regional cooperation on cross-border issues such as control of small arms, illegal immigrants and refugees.
In conclusion, the Executive Secretary requested the Kenya Government to host more IGAD projects, second staff, and provide lobbying and advocacy to IGAD. On the way forward, the Executive Secretary informed the Permanent Secretaries that IGAD was undergoing revitalization as directed by the Summit; hence IGAD would be a more effective and stronger REC (Regional Economic Community).
In his remarks, Amb. Muthaura thanked the Executive Secretary for availing himself to meet the Permanent Secretaries and brief them on IGADs activities. He noted that while IGAD had made strong gains in the political arena particularly the Somalia and Sudan peace processes, the economic opportunities had not been exploited. He recalled that he was involved in the formation of IGAD and although the organisation was initially formed to combat the effects of drought and desertification, it had the potential to outgrow its mandate and open up trading opportunities among the member states. He noted that Kenyas trade was skewed to the south yet the north offered tremendous trading opportunities. He implored the Permanent Secretaries to fast track infrastructure projects to the north and in particular the road and rail networks to South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. He said it was impossible to do business by air hence the need to open up trading routes that would facilitate movement of people, goods and services. He urged his colleagues to give priority to infrastructure projects such as the Lamu port and Isiolo-Moyale road that had the potential to open up business opportunities with Kenyas neighbours.