Safari Rally to inject billions into Kenyan economy, says Amina

Kenya will reap handsome rewards from the Safari Rally’s return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) circuit with an estimated Sh6 billion expected to be injected into the country’s economy, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has said.

The Safari was to return to the WRC series this year after staying out in the cold since 2002, but the eagerly-awaited comeback was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic with fresh dates for the event next year announced as June 23 to 25.

Speaking at the close of a four-day WRC Safari Rally headquarters’ staff team-building retreat at the Flamingo by Pride Inn Hotel in Mombasa on Saturday, the CS said that Kenya has mapped out a legacy project to secure sustainability and improve the conditions of Kenya’s host institutions, host county and Kenya as whole “in keeping with the Kenya’s intent to lead and deliver on the sustainable development goals.”

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed (right) looks on during the closing ceremony of the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally Staff Conference at Pride Inn Flamingo Beach Resort in Mombasa on October 24, 2020./Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

“Due to the importance of the Safari Rally, I revamped the Steering and Organising Committees by bringing on board critical ministries and high powered, highly specialised individuals to support you in this endeavor,” the CS told the Safari team, adding that the Steering Committee, comprising members from government, the private sector and rally professionals, met on April 29 to take stock of the progress and provide procedural and technical guidance to the project through the Chief Executive Officer Phineas Kimathi.

National heritage

She added that the ministry has also availed the resources necessary to execute the event and will continue to do so to meet the standards expected by event patron President Uhuru Kenyatta, the FIA (International Automobile Federation) and the Kenyan public.

“The Safari Rally is at the heart of our national heritage because it embodies the spirit of our people to excel even in the toughest circumstances. The profile of this event therefore identifies Kenya’s capacity as a top tourist destination,” the CS said.

Amina projected that the WRC Safari Rally will converge in excess of 825 million visitors in the form of spectators, online games participants on Safari Play Station and global television viewership saying that she also expects the WRC to attract more than 1.5 billion online impressions making the event truly unique.

The CS said she hoped the Safari staff’s retreat has been enriching with critical presentations covering safety, security, medical, media, life skills, administrative processes and team building physical activities which she believes have all “strengthened the participants’ bonds of collegiality and camaraderie and set them firmly towards delivering a world class event next year.”

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed arrives for the closing ceremony of the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally Staff Conference at Pride Inn Flamingo Beach Resort in Mombasa on October 24, 2020./Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

She said the return of the WRC event is a seed that will inspire many of the Kenyan people to move forward in life with enthusiastic hearts and with a clear sense of wholeness and an inspiration that has no limits.

“I am very proud of the work that you have all put into preparing for this event. You have constantly raised the bar assuring to deliver the greatest WRC event across all Rally circuits,” CS Amina said, giving an assurance that government will continue to provide the financial, administrative and technical support necessary to facilitate the 2021 WRC Safari Rally.

Synergise operations

She said the journey towards the return of the Safari Rally to Kenya has brought many valuable lessons among them the need to prepare better than Kenya has done in the past by working in concert with experts and allowing ample time to test preparations before the actual event.

The government, she said, must also synergise operations “to enhance efficiency and guarantee effective delivery and also must remain open to learning and improving on the structures to continue the tradition of hosting the most challenging WRC Rally course in the world.”

“We engaged the WRC promoter to work with us systematically until the completion of the event and have, together, mapped out the route, engaged various manufacturers and teams to participate in the rally, set up the service park and continued to test the course to ensure that it brings the thrill, for competitiveness and entertainment that the Safari Rally commanded before its suspension in 2002,” she said.

The CS noted that apart from competition, the WRC safari Rally will also play a leading role in propagating road safety.

“Our proposed intervention is to partner with the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), to train the next generation of motorists on road safety, among other initiatives. We are in advanced discussions with (FIA) President Jean Todt on a visit in the near future to launch this project,” she explained.

WRC Safari Rally CEO Kimathi thanked the CS for the support she has given the organisers of the rally and also congratulated her on her election to the World Motor Sports Council, a position he said will hold Kenya in good stead in global motor sports operations.

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