SPEECH BY AMB. (DR.) AMINA MOHAMED, EGH, CAV, ON THE OFFICIAL SIGNING OF THE EXTENSION AGREEMENT FOR THE SAFARI RALLY HOSTING RIGHTS BY KENYA, DELIVERED IN MONACO, FRANCE, ON JANUARY 23, 2022
Mr. Phineas Kimathi, Mr. Jona Siebel, Simon Larkin, and your entire team;
Thank you for the kind and warm welcome in Monaco, and for your commitment towards the Safari Rally in Kenya.
The decision by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to return the Safari Rally to Kenya left an indelible mark in Kenya’s motorsports sector and transformed small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The rally held in the County of Nakuru – a few kilometres from Kenya’s capital Nairobi – was ranked as the most followed on social media with millions of impressions, and injected Ksh6 billion in the country’s economy.
Our close partnership with the FIA and the World Rally Championship (WRC) has led to the activation of different support programmes in Kenya. For instance, The FIA Rally Star programme, the first of its kind in the rally circuit has empowered our young rally stars and enabled them to excel in regional competitions. The Programme has given them hope for a future in which they can compete in the world’s most prestigious rally championships and be ranked alongside the world’s greatest rally drivers.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Safari Rally is one of the flagship projects of His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of the Republic of Kenya, who played a key role in its return in 2021, after a 19-year hiatus; a promise that he pledged in 2013, and kept.
Thanks to His Excellency, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to the WRC circuit and promises to collaborate with the FIA to ensure the growth of World Rally Championship by funding the project in Kenya for the next five (5) years and beyond.
The signing of the Events Promotions Agreement today is an expression of our commitment to the growth of the sport.
The benefits of hosting the Rally are self-evident from the construction of an ultramodern service park in Naivasha, to a boost in businesses and a positioning of the country as an ideal destination for safari rally enthusiasts, the growth of our tourism sector, and utilisation of a team of highly trained cadre of professionals.
I would like to thank His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, for his continued support and commitment in ensuring the growth of motorsports in Kenya. The President, who is the patron of motorsports, has been leading these negotiations and ensured that an agreement had been reached to extend this partnership.
In the amended agreement, Kenya will host the WRC Safari Rally until December 2023, having lost the first year of our previous agreement (2020) to COVID-19 pandemic.
The second amendment, which we have also signed today, further seeks to extend the competition in Kenya until December 2026.
Another agreement reached is the inclusion of the winner of the African Rally Championship in one World Rally Championship event in a WRC 2 car.
Additionally, I am glad to announce that we have negotiated to have the 2021 FIA Africa Rally Championship Junior champion driver and navigator to join the Junior WRC Driver programme, which is supported by motorsport engineering company M-Sport. M-Sport has agreed to support the FIA Rally Star programme in Kenya by entering a number of cars in a number of events in the FIA African Rally Championship.
As a country, we are keen to grow the Women in Motorsports Programme – which I am passionate about – to ensure the inclusion of women in rally competitions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In keeping with Kenya’s intent to lead and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have developed two (2) legacy projects to secure environmental sustainability and improve the conditions of our host institutions and host Counties.
These legacy projects are anchored on two themes: environmental conservation and action for road safety.
The environmental conservation project targets Kenya’s wetlands affected by climate change, deforestation, Safari Rally and Kenya Motor Sports Federation routes, the service park and the spectator stage at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Our target is to plant 18 million trees in three years. Already we are approaching the 3 million mark thanks to our dedication to combat the adverse effects of climate change and especially deforestation.
We are also working with FIA on the Action for Road Safety Program, launched in support of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety with a focus on Road Safety and Motoring Education. This program will bolster the safety prerogatives put in place by the Safari Safety, Security and Medical teams.
It is our considered position that motorsports can positively and impactfully contribute to sustainability.
We call upon international sports bodies like the FIA, the WRC, and our national corporate sponsors to partner with us to ensure the full implementation of these two powerful projects.
I would especially wish to thank the Kenya Motorsport Federation for the professional and structured management of the sport, and the Kenyan safari rally fans for their passion and support throughout the years.
Finally, it is worth noting that Safari Rally remains at the heart of or national heritage. We want to confirm that we are in the final stages of preparing for the 2022 edition of the Safari Rally.
The route has been GPRS mapped and other logistical preparations put in place to ensure the event is bigger and better than ever before. The government has availed the resources necessary to execute this event and will continue to do so to meet the standards expected by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, the FIA, WRC and the Kenyan public.
As a government, and as a country, we look forward to hosting you in Kenya in June this year for the World Rally Championship Safari Rally 2022 and beyond.