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Why I think 2015 was a good year for Kenya

Today, we say goodbye to the year 2015, a year that had many highs and lows for Kenya but which ended with a memorable event.

This was the heroic deed of Muslims at El Wak who risked their lives to save Christians whom they were travelling with in a bus. This is perhaps one of the best highs for this year.

This single act of fearlessness by patriotic Kenyan Muslims, who defied the most feared terrorist group in East Africa, has changed the Muslim narrative forever. They showed that we are truly fighting terrorism together as brothers and sisters and that Islam does not condone violence.

These brave Kenyans endorsed our collective interest that we are always our brother’s keepers at all times.

There has been too much bloodletting in northern Kenya with the massacre of students at Garissa University College in April, killings of innocent bus passengers in Mandera as well as quarry workers just a few of the incidents.

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Hence the news from El Wak came as a great relief to a nation reeling from the senseless attacks from an evil sect that is clearly out to tarnish the name of a great religion that is observed by many innocent people. We must thank God for that.

The visit by US President Barrack Obama electrified the nation and brought a lot of hope to many young people wanting to become entrepreneurs.

The visit re-energised a country’s resolve to fight corruption and allow ordinary citizens to succeed in entrepreneurship. The US made several commitments to support Kenya and thawed erstwhile frosty relations with a long time ally.

Then the visit by Pope Francis showered the country with holy blessings and a message of religious tolerance. Catholic Faithful and people from all walks of life formed the sea of people who congregated at the University of Nairobi grounds to take the Pope’s message of love to many who could not make it to the venue.

And as the year closed, the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference was in town with thousands of delegates haggling at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, trying to hammer a common understanding of global trade.

Although Africa through Kenya was quick to announce wins such as removal of agricultural subsidies by rich nations and trade facilitation of least developed countries, we are yet to understand what is in the details, which is where, as always, the devil is. But for sure Kenya indeed benefited greatly from the local spend that saw every hotel booked to capacity.

Most importantly was that Kenya was on the global map for the right reasons for the better part this year.

In Paris, some 200 governments came up with a surprise agreement signalling an end to the fossil fuel era, and for the first time committed to a universal agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.

Although it is too early to understand the full impact of this agreement, it will for sure affect our nascent hope to leverage on fossil fuel to develop our country. Not all will be lost though. The deal could come with some great benefits that we can leverage on.

For example, Europe spends inordinate amount of money to support agriculture during winter months resulting to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With the climate change agreement in place, it is likely that GHG emission levels would be in check for the first time in a long time.

Since most of these foods can grow in Africa naturally, we must put our act together and be part of the global solution to a significant problem like GHG. With so much idle land in Africa, we could very easily be the breadbasket of the world.

The Paris agreement may have informed decisions at the WTO but that does not mean that everything will come on a silver platter.

Africa must go out there and market her natural advantages, instil discipline among her young population, and demonstrate the willingness to exploit the opportunities as a strategy to create employment and sustainable development.

Africa may emerge the greatest beneficiary of the emerging global dynamics but we must be in a position to see the opportunities and seize them as they come.

William Arthur Ward an American writer said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

Let us be grateful to God for what He’s done to us in 2015 and look forward to the next year with joy and hope to achieve more.

The writer is an associate professor at University of Nairobi’s Business School

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