Uhuru: Return of Safari Rally has raised Kenya's profile as a sporting nation
President Uhuru at State House, Nairobi when he presided over the official opening of the 2020 virtual African Delivery Exchange Conference co-hosted by Kenya, African Development Bank and the Tony Blair Institute on November 24, 2020. [PSCU, Standard]

The World Motorsport Federation (FIA) has pledged to support Kenya’s road safety and climate change adaptation programs ahead of the 2021 Safari Rally event.

President of the FIA Jean Todt said on Wednesday the return of Safari Rally is a big step forward and will contribute to the socio-economic progress of the country.

“Kenya is a key partner of FIA and we will continue working closely with the Government to ensure that the return of the Safari Rally contributes to the socio-economic progress of the country,” said Todt during a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in Nairobi.

President Uhuru welcomed Todt’s idea indicating that a road safety campaign will be rolled out ahead of next year’s Safari Rally.

The Head of State regretted the postponement of the rally to next year due to the coronavirus.

He, however, said the country will have better plans in place to host the iconic global motorsport event.

“We thank Mr Todt for overseeing the Safari Rally’s return to the global stage because it has raised Kenya’s profile as a sporting nation,” Uhuru pointed out.

Uhuru: Return of Safari Rally has raised Kenya's profile as a sporting nation
Fédération Internationale de l’ Automobile (FIA) president Jean Todt and Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed during the launch of REV – a virtual realty F1 race experience at the Village Market, Nairobi, on Wednesday, November 25, 2020. [Standard Sports]

The two leaders discussed several other programs of mutual interest between FIA including the ongoing digitisation of vehicle number plates to enhance enforcement of road safety measures.

Also discussed was the partnership between FIA and the Kenyan private sector in the manufacture of certified motorsport gear such as helmets.

The President was joined in the meeting by Sports CS Amina Mohamed, Head of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua and WRC Chief Security Officer Julius Kabiru while Mr Todt was accompanied by WRC Kenya Chairperson Phineas Kimathi and FIA Vice President Surinder Thatthi.

The FIA president, who is also the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Road Safety, is in the country to assess Kenya’s preparedness ahead of the World Rally Championship event which makes a comeback after 18 years.

Todt last visited Kenya on February 27, 2018, when he opened the Safari Rally’s Kasarani secretariat and expressed his desire to see the return of the Safari rally, dropped in 2002, back into the WRC fold.

Uhuru: Return of Safari Rally has raised Kenya's profile as a sporting nation
Kris Rosenberger co-driven by Nicola Bleicher leaves a trail of dust at the 2019 East Africa Classic Safari rally in Mombasa, December 06, 2019. [PHOTO BY GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].

He was present during the signing ceremony between the FIA WRC commercial rights holder, WRC Promoter, and the Kenyan government on June 21 in Paris, when Kenya was granted rights to host the 2019 Safari Rally as an FIA WRC Candidate Event.

The FIA president also met Uhuru in Nairobi two years ago and in Kingston, Jamaica, on the sidelines of the Jamaican Independence Day celebrations which resulted in the restoration of the Safari Rally’s WRC status.

The 2021 WRC Safari Rally has since been confirmed to run from June 24 to 27.

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