Steering the Kenyan Mission.

3 Comments

Diplomacy

Life & Work of His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed A. Gello, MBS, Head of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in the Republic of Korea-

He is the current Ambassador of Kenya to S. Korea. We delve deep into his profile, from schooling straightdown to his career. Have a read.

Education

His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed A. Gello is a career diplomat and a holder of Bachelors of Science Degree from the University of Nairobi. He also holds two Masters of Arts Degrees in Public Administration from the Punjab University, Chandigarh, India and in International Studies from the University of London in the United Kingdom.

His career in the Public Service

Amb. Gello began his career in public service as a graduate teacher at the Wajir High School in 1986 before joining the Kenya High Commissioner in New Delhi, India as an Education Attaché in 1988-94. He also served as an Education Officer I in the Ministry of Education in 1994-95 before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the Head of Education and Training Division from 1995-2000 after which he served as Deputy Chief of Protocol up to the year 2002. He then joined the Embassy of Kenya in Washington DC in the United States as Foreign Service officer I up to the year 2006. He headed the China Desk from 2006-09 before his appointment as the Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he served from 2009-2015 before his next assignment as the representative of the Head of State in the Republic of Korea from February 2015 to date.

During his 33 years in public service, H.E. Gello has distinguished himself for his exceptional dedication to work and results oriented approach in the dispensation of duty. For this reason, the Ambassador has worked on specialized assignments to steer key committees on strategic themes of national and global interests including as: member of the Ministerial Executive Committee on the organization of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the 12th Conference of Parties; member of the Ministerial executive Committee on the organization of the 8th Basel Conference; and member of the Task Force on the Rationalization, Restructuring and the Strengthening of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For his dedication to service, Ambassador Gello received the Head of State Commendation, Member of the Burning Spear (MBS) on 12th December, 2012.

So what are some of his achievements as Kenya’s Envoy in the Republic of Korea?

During his tenure, Amb. Gello has facilitated several high level exchanges between Kenya and Korea. The former President of Korea Ms. Park Guen Hye visited Kenya in May, 2016. The Prime Minister H.E. Lee Nak-yeon was in Nairobi in June, 2018 where he held consultations on mutual cooperation with H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Deputy President H.E. William Ruto, while the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amb. Monica Juma was in Seoul in October, 2018 in the first ever visit by a Kenya Minister for Foreign Affairs to Korea. These high level exchanges denote the levels of commitment invested by both parties in deepening the existing lines of collaboration.

Since 2015, an unprecedented number of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) have been signed between Kenya and Korea in fields of mutual interest such as health, education, agriculture, cultural promotion, ICTs, energy, infrastructure, fisheries, water and sanitation as well as trade and investment. It is worth noting that the Agreement to establish the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) was signed in May 2016 in anticipation of Kenya’s need for highly skilled personnel to drive the Big Four Agenda entailing universal health care provision, food security, affordable housing and industrialization in the backdrop of the 4th industrial revolution.

In the endeavor  to increase the value and volume of the export of Kenyan products to Korea, Amb. Gello has spearheaded sustained engagement with the authorities of the Government of the Republic of Kenya to address the non-tariff barriers impeding bilateral trade. This culminated in the securing of clearance for the entry of Kenyan bananas and broccoli into the Korean market with negotiation for the access of avocados still in the pipeline.

The Mission, under Amb. Gello’s stewardship has established cordial relations with the Kenyans living in Korea through close collaboration with the officials of the Association of Kenyans in Korea (KCK) evident in the various joint activities co-sponsored by the Embassy. The Mission has for the first time employed two Kenyans on a full time basis to the post of Administrative Assistant and Accounts Assistant. The Mission also established an internship programme that has benefited a number of Kenyans in Korea and furnished them with the requisite skill and exposure to navigate the highly competitive job market. All these initiatives have served to greatly enhance the Mission’s Diaspora outreach programme.

Kenya’s presence and prestige continues to grow in Korea due to the synergy generated by the close engagement with the Host Government as well as the Kenyan Community. This was evident in the support and participation of the Government of the Republic of Korea at the highly successful first ever global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference (SBEC) held in Nairobi on 26th-28th November, 2018 in Nairobi through the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. The Mission’s success in maintaining a high profile in Korea can also be attributed to the support of associate agencies notably the: International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Korea-Africa Foundation, Korea Trade and Investment Authority (KOTRA), Importers Association (KOIMA), Chamber of Commerce (KCCI), Korea Trade Association (KITA) and Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA) whose continued cooperation remains invaluable.

Amb. Gello launching the Korea corner at Bomun Library, Daegu- S.Korea

So what does he have to say about his experience as the Kenya’s envoy?

“Serving in the Republic of Korea has been an eye opening experience given the unique history and unique diplomatic situation presented by the geo-politics particularly in the Korean Peninsula. The tour of duty in the Republic of Korea accorded the pleasure of imbibing the rich Korean culture as well as the multiplicity of its culinary delicacies.

The most important responsibility remains steering the Mission to improve the balance of trade which to date remains in favour of Korea. Our exports are primarily agricultural and horticultural produce. Consultations are ongoing to procure Korea’s support in strengthening Kenya’s industrial capacity particularly in the field of manufacturing and value addition.

The biggest inspiration is the solemn call of duty to serve our beloved country and raise her profile in the Republic of Korea. The welfare of Kenyans living in Korea remains at the heart of the Mission’s service delivery agenda. The desire to optimize the resources to deliver fully on the mandate of the Kenyan Mission in Korea is a major motivating factor as well as steering the team at the Kenyan Embassy to invest their best effort in ensuring our flag continues to fly high in the Republic of Korea.”

 

 

 

TRADE PROMOTION

By Lorraine Owele

In the effort to elevate the level of engagement with partners, Kenya has prioritized economic and commercial diplomacy as a key pillar of its outreach to regional and international players. The mainstay of this effort has been to showcase Kenya’s comparative advantages particularly in the agricultural and tourism sectors.

The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Seoul has taken up this clarion call and invested effort in advocating for a robust engagement with the Government of the Republic of Korea. The emphasis has been on information dissemination to create awareness  on Kenyan products with the ultimate aim of increasing market share for Kenyan flagship products namely coffee, tea, flowers and premium tourism destinations.

In this regard the Mission, under the guidance of H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Gello and Ambassador Gathoga W. Chege who is in charge of the Economic Affairs docket, has participated in various shows and exhibitions in the spirit of amplifying Kenya’s presence in Korea and broadening the variety of products available to the Korean consumer. In the last quarter of 2018, the Mission was represented at the following key events:

1) Gangneung Coffee Festival

The Coffee Festival was held on 5th – 9th October, 2018 at the Green City Experience Center in Ezen, Gangneung. It is worth noting that the Kenya Embassy was the first foreign Mission to participate in this land mark event thus paving way for increased participation from other foreign Missions in Korea since 2015.

Through surveys conducted at the Gangneung festival, it is evident that Kenyan coffee is steadily gaining popularity among consumers in Korea owing to its distinct aroma and rich flavour. The Festival has been particularly instrumental in the promotion of Kenya’s coffee as well as Kenyan culture.

 

2) Itaewon Global Festival

The Festival was held on 13th -14th October, 2018 in the Itaewon Special Tourist Zone in Seoul. It is the biggest international festival in Korea and consists of over 200 booths with displays from different countries. The Festival attracts the participation of more than 1,400,000 international visitors who come to sample the diverse aspects of global culture and the array of food on display.

The Embassy of Kenya jointly participated in the festival with Kenyan handicraft dealers as a means of promoting Kenyan heritage and disseminating information on the various tourism destinations in Kenya. To date the Kenyan booth has attracted a lot of interest and recorded a large number of visitors drawn to the colourful cultural displays, the possibility of sampling a cup of delicious Kenyan coffee, the potential of a tantalizing visit to the land of the original safari as well as the warm welcome by Embassy staff who readily respond to visitor inquiries.

3) Cafe Show Seoul

The Café Show Seoul, the biggest annual coffee exhibition in Korea, was held on 8th -11th November, 2018 in COEX, Seoul. The Embassy jointly participated at the event with representatives from the Kenya Cooperative Coffee Exporters (KCCE). KCCE has consistently sent representation with merchandise for display during this important promotional event since 2012. As a result of this dedicated participation, KCCE started to export Kenyan coffee directly to major Korean wholesalers including E-mart and Lotte.

This exhibition has been fundamental in increasing the market share for Kenyan coffee in Korea and enhancing consumer awareness of premium Kenyan coffee products. It has further provided a great opportunity to develop networks with potential Korean buyers while maintaining good relations with existing contacts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Briefs on Korea-Kenya Relations

Korean Embassy in Nairobi

The 2018 Korea Cultural Festival took place on the 15th of December at the Westgate Shopping mall. For only a hundred shillings, Kenyans got the chance to try out Korean food. There was a variety of Korean dishes to check out.

On the 3rd of October, we celebrated Korean Foundation day at the residence of Korea’s Ambassador to Kenya in Lavington, Nairobi. The celebration commemorated the foundation of Korean nation dating back to 2333BC. The Guest of Honor was the Principal Secretary of Foreign Affairs Mr. Macharia Kamau. His address highlighted the Kenya and Korea bilateral relations from 1964 to present day. The attendants were later treated to great Korean classical music and Taekwondo, and then lunch that featured rich  Korean cuisine.

The Embassy gets a new Ambassador.

H.E Amb. Choi Yong Han

On the 31st of October 2018, the term of Amb. Kwon Young-Dae came to an end. This came after three years of service. He is now Korea’s ambassador to Lebanon.

The current Korea’s ambassador to Kenya, H.E Choi Yong Han, arrived in the country on the 21st of November 2018 and presented  credentials to President Kenyatta in December. Amb. Choi has a BA in International Relations from Seoul National University and an MBA from the State University of New York, Buffalo USA. He previously worked as the head of International Cooperation at the ‘Korea Institute for National Unification’  and was the Director General of ‘International Corporation Bureau.’

By Anne Achieng

VISIT BY THE CABINET SECRETARY TO THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Amb. Monica Juma with the Korean Prime Minister Mr. Lee Nak-Yeon

On the first ever official visit by a sitting Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Republic of Korea, the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Seoul hosted Amb. Monica Juma, CBS, Dphil, on 8th October, 2018. The visit was a milestone in the sustained effort to deepen and broaden the spectrum of engagement between Kenya and Korea.

During the visit, the Cabinet Secretary held meetings with three high level government officials within the Government of Korea as follows: the Prime Minister Mr. Lee Nak-Yeon, First Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Cho Hyun and the President of the Korea International Cooperation Agency Ms. Lee Mi-kyung.

The visit by the Cabinet Secretary established a unique momentum to amplify bilateral engagement as it closely followed the visit of the Korean Prime Minister in July 2018 and an earlier tour by the former President Ms. Park Geun-hye in May, 2016 during the two high level officials from Korea held consultations with the President H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta.

The vibrant consultations during the visit of the Cabinet Secretary pegged bilateral relations a notch higher and enabled deliberations on means of amplifying collaboration particularly in trade and investment with emphasis on the need to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers.  Emphasis was laid on fostering closer engagement with line Ministries and agencies in the agricultural sector to adapt a targeted approach in the promotion of Kenyan products to gain greater market share in Korea.

With regard to the Big Four Agenda, the Cabinet Secretary indicated the priority areas for cooperation with the Republic of Korea as follows: Food security with emphasis on increasing volume and nutritional value and development of species adaptive to the changing climatic conditions; Development of human resource for health care professionals; Exchange of experience with regard to affordable housing in order to adequately address the effects of increasing urbanization; Capacity building in the ICTs sector as it is cross cutting in all the areas of development.

The visit by the Cabinet Secretary was instrumental in mobilizing support and participation of the Republic of Korea at the high level Blue Economy Conference that took place in Nairobi on 26th-28th November, 2018. Officials from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea attended the conference as well as representatives from academia and the private sector to share the Korean experience in the successful mainstreaming and optimization of the marine resources.

The visit by the Cabinet Secretary provided fresh impetus for the Kenya Mission in Seoul to pursue its mandate to elevate relations between Kenya and Koreaa. In this regard, the Mission in conjunction with the Asia, Australasia and the Pacific Islands Directorate is pursuing the process of constituting a joint working group to oversee the implementation of decisions and projects as agreed during the meeting between H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Korean Prime Minister H.E. Lee Nak-yeon during his visit in July, 2018. The Mission is also anticipating the 5th Session of the Kenya/ Korea Joint Economic Commission (JEC) scheduled for 2019 that will enable greater engagement in areas of mutual cooperation including education, ICTS, health, agriculture, trade and investment as well as water and sanitation.

 

Ambassador Kwon Young-Dae

 

With Ms. Daisy Jemutai at the RoK Embassy offices, Nairobi.

By Daisy Jemutai

Amb. Kwon Young-Dae is the current Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Kenya. Alongside Kenya he is accredited to Somalia, Comoros and Mauritius. He has served for 3 years. His career spans from serving in the US, Iran, Germany, Brazil and now in Kenya. We paid him a visit and this is what he had to say.

So, who is Ambassador Kwon Young-Dae?

(Chuckles) I was born and raised in the country side of Chungcheong Province, South Korea. I am married and I have two boys, one is currently serving in the Korean military and the younger is studying here in Kenya. He is in 7th Grade. I graduated from Seoul National University having majored in History for my Bachelors Degree. I further went up the education ladder and got a Masters degree in Political Science at Georgia State University, USA.

What kind of activities do you engage in when not working?

I like different types of sports, especially Football, Soccer, Baseball and Basketball. Also, ever since I came to Kenya, I play golf nearly every weekend. When I have free time, I play the guitar as well. My other favorite hobby is playing the Korean traditional game called Go (usually played with black and white stones).

Having served as a diplomat for many years, how has your journey been?

Being a diplomat has enabled me to travel to different countries. I started out as a consul in the United States of America; at that time I was a Korean consul in general at Atlanta. I also worked at the Korean Embassy in Iran. I was posted to Germany and Brazil as well. This time I am serving in Kenya, where my post is accredited to 3 other countries too.

In what way have you benefited from your career?

Because I have been to several countries, I have been able to learn different cultures and  people. I have enjoyed being a diplomat; diplomacy has motivated and inspired me. I like it.

Growing up, did you have dreams of being an Ambassador? Why did you choose this path?

In my early years I thought of becoming a lawyer but later on discovered  I didn’t like some aspects of the legal  debate, somehow not in sync with my character. When I was in university, I wanted to become a professor until my 3rd year when I was drafted into the Army. After finishing my military service, I suddenly changed my mind and applied for  the Korean diplomat entry exam and subsequently became a Diplomat. My professor had recommended the exam, instead of being a professor which usually takes a lot of time.

What makes you wake up every morning?

Everyday my priority is to serve my nation and humanity. As a Korean diplomat I try to strengthen our national interest in order to serve my nation. I do my best. Service for humanity is also important. Nowadays my priority is in Environmental issues and Sustainable Development. Since the world is experiencing global warming and climate change, I would want to make my contribution to a better environment some day.

You have lived in Kenya for quite some time, which is your favourite Kenyan food?

Kenyan food would not be complete without ‘Nyamachoma’. It is very delicious and therefore my favourite. ‘Ugali’ is also good because it is similar to Korean Rice cake, though ‘Ugali’ is made from maize flour and Rice cake is made from rice. I also like chapatti.

On a light note, have you ever eaten ‘Githeri’ (beans and maize mixture)?

Yes I have eaten ‘Githeri’ and I liked it.

Which is your go to destination  in Kenya?

When we think about Kenya you think about Maasai Mara, which is one of the greatest African Wildlife reserves. When I went there I enjoyed the most spectacular Wild Ecosystem and the safari big games; especially the Wild Beast migration which is amazing. I have been to Amboseli National Park, which has a spectacular view of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Amongst the wild animals that you have seen, which is your favourite?

My favourite is definitely the Lion. The big five as well, especially due to the endangered species crisis amongst the big five. It is usually hard to find the leopard and the cheetah, and so we should preserve our endangered species. Another animal I like is the hyena, and more because of its behaviour like its hunting technique. Some people complain that hyenas steal food but they are intelligent and smart. At times they attack Lions all together, and therefore  through the hyena I  have learnt about cooperation (chuckles) which is very important when hunting.

Which tourist destination would you recommend to our readers if they decided to visit South Korea?

I fully recommend  Jeju Island. It is recognised as the best preserved area in Korea. Jejudo is the only island province in Korea. It is the most popular honeymoon destination site as well. It is known as ‘a little Hawaii’ for its balcony landscape, sub-tropical scenery and sand attraction. Jejudo has old texture cottage with walls made from lava, which offers a great chance for tourists to enjoy the Island’s unique pop culture. Also the sea food is  very delicious. Busan is also a popular tourist destination point, known for its beautiful sandy beaches. It is quite similar to Mombasa.

What would you like to tell our readers about the Korean Embassy?

I hope the relations between Korea and Kenya will be strengthened more. I hope that Kenyans and Koreans will be able to know each other more. That is why I try to promote cultural exchange and people to people exchange programmes. We live in different geographical areas so through exchanges we are able to know each other better. As the Korean Ambassador, I try to upgrade the bilateral ties between Korea and Kenya in the various fields. Now, I have given top priority to the ‘Big 4 project’ that was initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta; affordable housing, universal health care, manufacturing and security, that is in line with the Kenyan government policy.

Lastly, any word of advice to our readers

I want to take this opportunity to tell all the young students that you have great potential. First, you should work very hard. To quote Mandela, ‘education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.’  You are young and therefore you can do anything. Do not give up but keep on working hard. It  will pay off and you will accomplish your dreams. Do not be afraid of failure,  for example to quote  Michael Jordan where he said that during his career he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots, and that is why he succeeded. And therefore even though you may fail, try to take lessons from your failures, be brave and do not be afraid of making mistakes. Challenges are important as they better you in future.

With President Uhuru Kenyatta, Image Credits: https://www.scoopnest.com

Photography: Joshua Nyantika

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working as Secretary of the Amb. of the Republic of Korea to Kenya

Kindly introduce yourself

My name is Elizabeth Wangari. I work at the Office of the Korean Ambassador (Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Kenya) as the Secretary.

How did you come to work at the Embassy?

I joined the Embassy in 2008. Prior, I had just completed my BA in Social work and Sociology at the University of Nairobi and was doing community work with NGO’s. Having seen the situation on the ground i.e. the frustration of working without funding, I wanted to work with a body that would be able to fund NGO’S . That is when I saw an opening at the Korean Embassy and applied.

What is your role as the secretary to the Ambassador?

My role is quite diverse; first, I am in charge of the Embassy’s Public relations. I handle official communication to the various Foreign Affairs Ministries accredited to the Embassy, which aside from Kenya include: Mauritius, Somalia and Comoros. The Ambassador in Kenya is extraordinaire a.l.a plenipotentiary, which means he is an ambassador based in one country but also serves all the other countries accredited to the embassy.

I facilitate communication from the Kenyan Embassy in Korea to diplomats. The diplomats then forward it to me, to which I send to the various ministries, International Organizations and other Embassies. Lastly I do secretarial work such as writing the Ambassador’s speeches and articles, knowing his schedule etc.

How has your journey been at the Korean Embassy

I have worked at the Embassy for 9 years and will celebrate my 10th anniversary this coming November. When I first came here I did VAT exemptions and daily reports about Kenya and the other countries accredited to the Embassy. Through the years I’ve risen to where I am, having served 4 ambassadors. I find joy in doing my work every day.

Is Korean Language the primary mode of communication at the Embassy

No. Operations are carried out in English. Any communication from Korea goes through the diplomats first, who then translate from Korean to English. They then forward it to me for distribution.

In that regard, do you know how to speak Korean Language

I have been studying Korean for a long time. At the Embassy there is a program tailor made for employees. However it runs during specified times and by the time we pick up with classes again it is hard to keep up. I have therefore been limited to basics.

Having worked at the Embassy for many years, has it impacted your life in any way?

Yes. I have learnt a couple of skills such as diligence and hard work. I have learnt to work fast and not take any short cuts. My sense of patriotism has also been reinforced having seen the way Koreans love their country. I also managed to do my Masters in International Relations.

At such a position, what is your greatest achievement at the Embassy?

Working on the establishment of Korean Studies Department at the University of Nairobi. During Ambassador H.E. Chan Woo Kim’s time, there was a program invitation to give funding to any Sub-Saharan Higher learning institution towards starting a Korean Studies center. I was asked to give my opinion and suggested the University of Nairobi. I was picked to handle the matter. After consulting with UoN, I sent the application to Korean Foundation. To cut the long story short, the department is up and running.

Korean companies/organizations tend to have ‘hweishik’ (dinning out with company members). Does the same happen at the Korean Embassy, and what is your favorite Korean Cuisine?

Yes, we usually eat Korean cuisine together as employees. Sometimes we do it at the Ambassador’s residence. My favorite food is ‘Bulgogi’ and ‘Bibimbap.’

Last year you went to Korea courtesy of the Embassy, tell me about it

I was honored by the Embassy with a chance to go visit Korea on a program that awards long-term serving employees. Together with other employees from different countries we went to various cities including Seoul. During the stay, we visited a number of cultural heritage sites and saw beautiful landmarks such as the Seoul Tower.

Having seen Korea first hand, what can you say about Korean Culture

It was great to experience their culture first hand. What fascinated me was one could leave their belonging anywhere and it could not be stolen. Koreans are well organized. I believe they took conscious  steps  to get where they are.

I saw a quote at the forefront of POSCO (Pohang Steel Co.) Company in Ulsan that I loved. It stated, ‘Limited resources but unlimited creativity.’ This is something we need to pick up as Kenyans.

Interview by Daisy Jemutai

 

JUSTICE KITAEK LEE

The late of August 2017, Justice Kitaek Lee (이기택),  a senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Korea visited Kenya. We met him and had the following interview.

Is it your first time in Kenya? How about Africa?

It is my second visit to Africa and my first in Kenya. I visited Egypt a while back.

Why did you come?

Africa is not well known in Korea so my interest came out of that realization. In addition, I personally see Kenya as a key African representative. With regards to my work, it was a dream of mine to meet students in the legal field receiving education to lead Kenya’s future entities. I had also heard about Korean studies being offered abroad in rare places, especially in Africa and was therefore curious to visit the University of Nairobi, Korean Studies department.

How do you find Kenya’s judiciary compared to the Republic of Korea’s judicial system?

Right now I don’t have a lot of understanding on the Kenyan judiciary but in Korea the court decides on its own working budget. The courts decide on their expenses by themselves in an independent manner. However, the Kenyan courts are governed by a committee when  they want to pay something. The committee makes decisions on court budgetary matters.

What are some of the comparisons you’ve been able to observe between the two countries’ judicial systems?

The two countries have a history of colonization and although negative, we cannot really do anything about it. I want to see both countries work fiercely to keep the principles of an independent judiciary.

Are there some areas where Kenya and Korea can cooperate to improve their respective judicial systems.

Korea is collaborating with a lot of countries at the moment including Kenya by learning from each other’s advantages. I think it is also a good opportunity to help Kenya in the process of teaching law since Korea is advanced in legal matters. The two countries could legally and positively use each other’s advantages in carrying out business together.

For example, from a personal experience, there was a case in 2002 where the Code of Civil Procedure was amended (it is still being implemented). The process of that amendment had begun through some groundwork that was made in 1995. What I had wanted was to learn from as many countries with more knowledge in Code of Civil Procedure as possible and who could introduce it to Korea. But then I only managed to get information from a few countries because it was so difficult to get it, as the other countries were somewhat cautious and reluctant. Suppose Kenya and Korea work together on developing the Code of Civil Procedure and I take all of Kenya’s good points and put them in the Korean law then later it will not be good so I think this is part of the reason why I only managed to get help from a few countries.

You’ve come at a time when the Kenya’s Supreme Court has just cancelled the presidential elections, a milestone for any African country. What are your thoughts about the transformation of Kenya’s judicial system?

No comment. There are political laws that apply for every country, and there can be issues with these particular laws everywhere. I just hope people can learn from it and get better.

From the talks you’ve had with the faculty of Law at the University of Nairobi, and the interactions you’ve had with some of their students, how can you compare Kenya’s legal education system and that of Korea?

Until 2008 Korea used to use the undergraduate system similar to Kenya’s but in 2009 we switched to the American graduate school system, and hence the differences. From my meetings with the UoN law students, I personally felt the students were very advanced about legal matters. I was very moved.

Are there any areas you think Kenya can emulate Korea on judicial matters?

Korea underwent a lot of changes and development in a short period of time. In these changes, it included the judiciary positively changing the society. So in Korea’s judiciary, there is this helping ability. Kenya’s may also have or develop a similar helpful ability.

Korea International Cooperation Agency, Nairobi

KOICA Alumni

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is the Republic of Korea’s aid agency. Daisy Jemutai met up  with Annie Njoroge, the head of Projects at KOICA and this is what they talked about.

Daisy: Kindly tell me a little bit about yourself.

Annie: My name is Annie Njoroge. I joined KOICA in 2014 as a Project specialist having done my masters in Development studies. My interest in joining KOICA was based on my passion for project management in relation to community development. Currently I am in charge of KOICA projects at the Kenya Office.

Daisy: What does KOICA do?

Annie: As an aid organization it is primarily focused on two areas; the first is project implementation,that is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The second area is training of personnel, aimed at fostering Human Resource Development.

Daisy: So, what areas has KOICA  Kenya  delved  into.

Annie: We have had 12 local projects on education, water and health. The Kenyan Office is a champion on water development and therefore most of its projects are water based. Some of our water project areas are  Migori, Asembo, Naivasha, and Garissa (a diameter wall project). We have an ongoing project in Bungoma that is supposed to end by February 2018. Once the Bungoma water project is completed, it will benefit approximately 150,000 people. It will also benefit the neighboring Mt. Elgon region.

Daisy: What do these water projects entail.

Annie: The projects are mostly about water treatment plants.  It is a collaboration of both County and National government, and KOICA. What happens is that the county government and the Central government’s implementing body (on the ground) usually write a proposal, that is then taken to the Ministry of Water. The ministry reviews it and later  forwards it to the National treasury before  it ends up at the Korean Embassy.

Daisy: Tell us more about the other projects KOICA has done in Kenya.

Annie : We have done various renovations and constructions for schools. In Nakuru  we built one school and did two renovations. We built Kitengela Sub county Hospital, did a couple of renovations last year and supplied the hospital with equipment.

 

Daisy: How does KOICA pin-point the area that is in need of a project.

Annie: We don’t limit anyone when it comes to applying. Usually when a proposal is sent our way through the ministry, we review it and then hand it over to the HQ who look at the viability of the project -in terms of the budget, the need, and  the capacity of the office handling the project. Proposals sent are usually on a government to government basis.

Daisy: So, what projects are currently on-going?

Annie:

  1. Water development project – Improvement of water supply system in Bungoma County.
  2. The Primary school environment and ICT project – with the help of the Ministry of Education. It is running in Ngu’ndu Primary school in Kamulu and Uhuru Gardens Primary school in Langata where we are building classes and an ICT center.
  3. The National Industrial Training Authority Capacity Development Project – we are renovating their Mombasa Center. We intend to buy equipment for the institution.
  4. Kitengela Sub county Hospital renovation.
  5. Mother Child health program.

Daisy: When the former President Park Geun-Hye visited Kenya, she was involved in the establishment of the Mother-Child Health Program. How is the project going?

Annie: The mother-child health program is currently running and is being implemented in Kajiado County. It is an outreach program for both mothers and children, done 4 times in a month.  Our team (on the ground) does the implementation, in terms of treatment and diagnosis of various diseases. The program does not limit men though, as they can be treated as well. I would therefore label it more of a community development project, aimed at helping all the people in need.

Daisy: Let’s dive into KOICA’s other nascent area- Human Resource Development. How is the Kenya program running.

Annie: KOICA has 3 programs in training; Short term training that runs for 2-4 weeks, County Specific Training- where a county requests for a specific course, and Long-term training – a Masters program. Our HQ sends courses  that are offered in a particular year. Our work in the Kenya office is to receive these courses and send them to the department of Public Service Management, who then circulate them to specific ministries. It is the ministries that nominate the trainees and KOICA  finances the entire training including the flight, accommodation and meals.

Daisy: Where are these trainings carried out?

Annie: I would say that 90% of the trainings are  done in South Korea, although there are inland trainings where experts from Korea are send to Kenya to conduct the courses. The same thing happens with projects. For every project there are three trainings; the Policy makers training, Middle level managers training and an inland training.

Daisy: How many people have been impacted by these training programs and how successful have they  been?

Annie: Over the years we have managed to send over a thousand people for trainings. Personally I would say the project is successful because one is able to experience expertise that they had not gone through in Kenya. The cultural interaction opens one’s mind to new initiatives, and those who have gone to Korea have come back to implement the new things in their respective counties.

Daisy: There is the KOICA alumni, who are they?

Annie: The KOICA Alumni are people who have gone through our training programs and have come back to Kenya. They have various activities carried out quarterly. They go to schools to offer counseling in terms of career development and infrastructural support.

Daisy: Does KOICA support their activities ?

Annie: Yes. They simply tell KOICA the activities that they have for the year and are given a budget to run them. KOICA alumni are more independent, as they run there  own activities but in association with KOICA Offices.

Daisy: For your mission statement, as KOICA, what are your hopes for Kenya?

Annie: Considering that South Korea was once a poor nation, we hope that Kenya would rise from a developing country to a position where they can offer grants and aid just like South Korea at the moment.

Interview by Daisy Jemutai