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Kenya’s Top Leadership Rally Behind IAAF Nairobi WU18 Championships

Ruth Kagia, State House Senior Advisor, Social and International Relations during World Under 18 media breakfast meeting at Intercontinental Hotel on October 13, 2016

 Friday 30th December 2016

Kenya’s top leadership have fully backed the nation’s decision to stage the 10th edition IAAF World Under 18 Championships in Nairobi next year (12-16, 2017). Leaders from high government echelons have made pronouncements that cleared any doubt that the over Kes 2 billion budget may be out of reach for the athletics-mad nation to stage the event.

The Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Arts and Culture, Dr Hassaan Wario, addressed the Local Organising Committee on two different occasions, first on September 28 at the Intercontinental Hotel where he was flanked by the top civil servant in the ministry, Principal Secretary Amb. Richard Ekai and engineers and other technocrats from various government ministries, where he emphatically stated that Kenya was on the verge of staging one of the most successful global championships.

“I thank the LOC for an impressive work done so far. What is remaining is implementation. From what I have witnessed here today, this work can and will be done, even with nine months only remaining,” said the CS. “I expect security team to be on top of its docket. It is the view of His Excellency (President Uhuru Kenyatta) that security be given top priority and I cannot agree more with him that, for us to host the world’s youths here successfully, we must take cognizance of the security situation and accord it the importance it deserves,” he said.

The CS announced the setting up of Critical Path and Rapid Response Teams to compliment work of the LOC in ensuring things move smoothly and fast. He also reiterated that volunteers and hospitality dockets be given priority due to their central role in the success of the event. The CS assured that finances will be released to set up the secretariat and hire staff, and ordered that local and international procurements should be completed by the end of October. “Additional costs will be encountered in the process of this work, but we will support you,” assured the CS. He said Kenyatta University, which will host the Athletes’ Village, will be renovated to the tune of Kes 600 million. The CS proposed that the mascot depict wild beast migration in the Mara.

Then on October 12 at the Kasarani Stadium, where the Championships will be staged, at which he was taken through every single step of the logistical and technical details of the championships. Just to ensure the LOC appreciated that he was up to speed with matters of hosting such events, he urged them to have Plan Bs with water supply and power, just in case. The Media Breakfast took place at the Intercontinental on October 13, where the chief guest was Mrs Ruth Kaggia, Senior Advisor for Social Sector and International Relations in The Presidency. Other top guests were Amb. Ekai, and Vice Chancellor for Kenyatta University, Prof. Paul Wainaina. Also present were Chairman and CEO of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Lt Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei and Mwangi Muthee respectively.

If there were doubts previously about goodwill from the highest office on the land, such doubts were allayed on this day. She said while Kenya had hosted many global events in the recent past, including outgoing American president, Barrack Obama, The Pope and Tokyo International Co-operation for African Development (TICAD), among others, this one of the Under 18 world championships was different. “This one is different because it speaks to Kenyans, and it goes to the very heart of Kenya as a country. It is a great opportunity to use the under 18 event to identify and nurture new talent,” said the top official. “I am not just representing the Head of Public Service, Mr Joseph Kinyua, here. But I am also here to represent the President, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, who, as you very well know, recognizes sports as a unifying theme among Kenyans,” Mrs Kaggia said at a Media Breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel.

“It behoves all of us that we leave no stone unturned, that we put our best foot forward, and ensure security of athletes is taken care of. Kenyans must come on board to welcome the world, because how we open our hearts is key. Our hospitality, which is very well known, will come to play,” she said. “Sports has been recognized by the United Nations as one of peace instruments of bringing people together, reducing differences among people, because what unites the world is much greater than what divides them. “It is important for this age group (16-17), which is a formative age when permanent changes in behavior and outlook, permanent impressions are created. “How we handle those 2000 young people will define their impressions of Nairobi, Kenya and Africa for the rest of their lives. “Government will do what it takes to ensure this happens,” she Amb. Ekai reiterated that the Kes 2 billion will be made available, adding that an inter-ministerial committee has been set up to thrash details of the same, while Prof Wainaina said Kenyatta University, which will be the Athletes Village assured the guests and the gathering that KU is up to the task (of upgrading the facilities and making it hospitable to all athletes).