You will recall that recently, my government released the 8th National Development Plan and Sessional Paper No.2 of 1996. Both of these documents outlined our vision for Kenya at the turn of the century. They also affirm your determination to transform this country into an industrialised nation by the year 2020.
My government is committed to the development of the private sector as a major contributor to rapid economic growth. We encourage the growth of foreign investments, and we are encouraged if these investments invite Kenyan participation and partnerships in this regard. I am glad to note that fifty five percent of the share holding in the Nation Group is in the hands of Kenyans. The role of the media in the social and economic development of any nation should not be under-estimated.
The media are not just an important partner in national development, they are an agent to influence thought and social change.
In a fast changing world, and where the structures for national awareness have not taken root, the media are required to operate with a strong sense of responsibility, discipline and decorum.
In Kenya, we have guaranteed basic freedoms of speech and Press, but we have often been saddened when the media fails to be objective. In a multi-ethnic environment such as ours, a partisan Press is a great danger to democracy and good governance. Biased media can ignite ethnic hostilities that have the potential to dismember a nation. In this connection, I appeal to the media to exercise great caution and be objective especially when dealing with matters of political nature. We will continue to accept criticism that is fair and well intentioned.
Furthermore, a balanced story and one that positively influences society, I am sure, gives the journalist an enduring sense of gratification.
The influence that the media have on the thinking and conduct of people must never be used to weaken the positive aspects of the culture of our people or to undermine the moral fabric of society. It is therefore, necessary for investors in this industry to develop and broadcast programmes that serve to enrich the social and cultural values of he Kenyan society.
The world has become a global village. The substantial technological gains in the field of communication has opened new avenues for interaction between states and people. We wish to harness these available openings for our people to generate wealth through trade and investment. In this regard, Kenya's contribution to the revival of the East African Co-operation is well known. We support the implementation of the Regional Charter endorsed by the heads of the three nations.
While doing so, my Government is fully aware that investments need an environment which promises maximum returns. In this regard, I am pleased to state that the upgrading of the country's infrastructure has commenced and we expect this to be an added incentive to make this country the most preferred investment destinations.
One area that deserves mention is our roads. As you are aware, the Government recently obtained a total of thirteen point four billion shillings towards the improvement of some of our major roads.
Contracts for the repair and rehabilitation of the roads in Nairobi and other major towns have been awarded and rehabilitation work has already started. I want to point out that the private sector, can now participate fully in providing facilities and services which have traditionally been considered the preserve of the Government. Roads are one of the sectors which have been opened for private investment.
In this regard, the National investment Code is already being revised to address the concerns expressed by investors.
The challenges facing developing countries are many but most of them can be overcome if we uphold social stability. No nation is immune to the calamities of nature such as inadequate rainfall.
The famine which is being experienced in a large area of this country is a matter of concern to all of us and the Government has taken steps to provide wananchi in these areas with famine relief. We are also keenly monitoring the situation to ensure that vulnerable groups receive assistance until the situation returns to normal.
I will call upon the media to handle this situation and other issues of national importance with maturity and patriotism.
With these remarks, it is now my profound pleasure to declare the new Nation Printing Plant officially inaugurated.
Source: Daily Nation Thursday March 13, 1997
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