Opposition leader Raila Odinga has landed a new role at the African Union (AU).
The AU appointed the ODM leader as High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa on Saturday.
Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, who thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for supporting the decision, said the move is expected to bolster economic growth 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.
“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 in a statement.
Raila served as Kenya’s Energy, Roads, Public Works, and Housing minister between 2001 and 2005. The former Prime Minister announced that he has accepted his appointment by African Union Commission.
In his acceptance speech, Hon Raila Odinga thanked the African Union Commission and the chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat for the appointment to the position of High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.
Hon. Raila Odinga also expressed deep appreciation to President Uhuru Kenyatta for the support and promised to do all in his power towards the realisation of the pan-African agenda that he and the president are passionate about.
On his part, President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga on his appointment and wished him all the best.
“Congratulations to my brother, Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga on your appointment today as the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa. I wish you all the best in your new assignment, said President Kenyatta.
The vice president of Kenya, H.E William Samoei Ruto also congratulated the former Prime Minister as he begins the new assignment as African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.
With the support of all the relevant institutions and offices of the AU Commission and the Continent’s partners, Hon Raila Odinga has promised, “to use the position to push Africa closer to the realisation of the dreams of its founding fathers who envisaged a united and interconnected Continent that enjoys easy movement of goods and its citizens”.
Raila has served in a number of critical positions in a career spanning more than forty years.
As a special envoy of the AU chairperson, Raila will have an office in Addis but with frequent travel across the continent. He will 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.
“His mandate includes mobilizing further political support from Member States and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and facilitating greater ownership by all concerned stakeholders,” AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement.
The NASA leader’s role will see Raila Odinga work to support and strengthen AU’s departments and those of the Planning and Coordinating Agency of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
“Raila will 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 modernization,” added Mahamat.
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.