Address by the President of Kenya1

International Monetary Fund. Secretary's Department
Published Date:
October 1973
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Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

Today, the Boards of Governors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund meet for the first time on the continent of Africa. This is an important and historic occasion and, on behalf of the people of Kenya and the people of Africa as a whole, I welcome you all to Nairobi. I sincerely hope that your stay here will be enjoyable and productive.

For many of you, this may be your first visit to a developing country in Africa. I trust that you will be able to take this opportunity to visit various parts of Kenya. There is no end to learning, and I hope that your experience in Kenya will contribute toward the solution of the many problems you will investigate.

Your discussions will inevitably be dominated with matters closely related to the monetary disturbances of the last two years. It is imperative that solutions are found to these problems. The world cannot continue on its present course. If it does, monetary and economic situations similar to those of forty years ago would be inevitable.

All countries, developed and developing alike, have a common interest in your finding an early cure to the monetary sickness of inflation and instability that has afflicted the world. The solutions must be based on the continued expansion of world production with growing and fair trade.

I say “fair trade” because growth of world trade which does not take into account the needs of all countries is not a solution. Over the last fifteen years, many developing countries have been losing, every year, a significant proportion of their annual income through deterioration of their terms of trade. Recently, inflation in the industrial countries has led to further and important losses to the developing countries.

The need for effective cooperation has never been greater, as indicated by recent experiences in international monetary affairs. As currency difficulties have become more acute, unilateral action by each country to preserve its own self-interest has been a setback to the cause of world cooperation and the brotherhood of man. Decisions have been taken in the last two years with little regard to the harm they might do to others. The problems which seem so immense in the monetary field today may seem insignificant in a few years’ time, unless we find solutions which include a reasonable prospect of closing the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor nations.

Many studies have been undertaken to find answers to this problem of fair economic and social development. On paper the solutions have been established. What is lacking is political commitment and the will to implement them.

I realize that monetary matters will figure prominently in your discussions. However, there is a more fundamental crisis facing the international community, namely, the economic and social development of the peoples of the Third World. The responsibility of this meeting is great. The whole world is watching. This is not because many people understand the details of what you are discussing, but because the world looks to you to find urgent solutions to problems affecting their daily lives. In particular, I hope that, as a result of the deliberations of the Committee of Twenty over the last year, there will be a Nairobi agreement on the monetary front, worked on the basis of compromise and international understanding.

In your deliberations, I commend to you the Kenyan motto of “Harambee,” which means “pulling together in full cooperation.” harambee.

Delivered at the Opening Joint Session, September 24, 1973.

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