President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga during March 9 handshake/COURTESY
The African Union Commission has appointed ODM leader Raila Odinga as an envoy.
Chairperson Moussa Mahamat appointed Raila as High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.
“This decision is part of the African Union’s drive to expedite the integration of the continent through infrastructure, in order to promote economic growth and sustainable development,” Mahamat said.
In a statement on Saturday, Mahamat said the High Representative will work to support and strengthen the efforts of the Commission’s relevant departments.
Raila’s mandate includes mobilising further political support from member states and the regional economic communities and facilitating greater ownership by all concerned stakeholders on the continent.
“He will also support the Commission and NEPAD initiatives to encourage increased commitment from development partners,” Mahamat said.
Raila is expected to pay particular attention to the missing links along the transnational highway corridors identified as part of the Trans-African Highways Network, with a view to facilitating their development and modernisation.
The envoy will also focus on the continental high-speed train, which is one of the flagship projects of the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, in the context of the relevant African Union decisions.
He will interact with the current champions of related African Union initiatives and seek their guidance, to ensure the required synergy and coherence.
“Raila brings with him a rich political experience and strong commitment to the ideals of Pan-Africanism and African integration, as well as a deep knowledge of infrastructure development,” Mahamat said.
Raila has served in a number of critical positions in a career spanning more than forty years.
In addition to having been a Member of Parliament, he has held important ministerial portfolios, including Energy, Roads, Public Works, and Housing between 2001 and 2005. He has also served as Prime Minister of Kenya from 2008 to 2013.
The chairperson of the Commission expresses appreciation to President Uhuru Kenyatta for his support to this decision, consistent with his commitment to African integration.
He looks forward to the full cooperation of all Member States with the High Representative, as he carries out the mandate entrusted to him.
As a special envoy of the AU chairperson, Raila will have an office in Addis but with frequent travel across the continent to mediate in peace negotiations and conflict resolution.
Raila will also have a fully-furnished office in Nairobi, with staff and advisers to boost his local presence and unity programmes with Uhuru. He will however not be engaged in the country’s daily politics.