British Prime Minister Theresa May rounded off a whistle stop visit to Kenya by attending a State Banquet hosted by President Kenyatta and his wife, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
The State Banquet was attended by Deputy President William Ruto, Chief of Defense Forces General Samson Mwathethe, Cabinet Secretaries and diplomats among other high ranking government officials. Mrs May was accompanied by UK High Commissioner, Nic Hailey.
Speaking at the event, President Kenyatta called for the establishment of a new framework of cooperation with Britain as it exits from the European Union early next year.
Despite observing that Kenya and Britain enjoy a strong relationship, the President said there is need to strengthen the bond further by setting up a working group to lead discussions with a view of coming up with a clearer and stronger framework for cooperation between the two countries.
“I gather there will soon be changes in the United Kingdom’s trading relations; I imagine that only makes the establishment of a Kenya-UK working group all the more opportune,” he said.
The Kenyan Head of State added that Kenya and Britain should anchor on the existing strong trade and commercial ties to build an even more formidable partnership for the mutual benefit of their citizens.
Noting that the total value of trade between the two nations last year was £1.5 billion making the UK, Kenya’s fourth largest trading partner, President Kenyatta reiterated that Kenya’s Big Four development agenda provides a unique opportunity for British investors to increase trade and investments thereby strengthening the Kenya-UK even further.
“We in Kenya have settled on a new agenda, the Big Four, which prioritizes food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and healthcare. In each of these areas, we believe, there is scope for engagement between Kenya and the UK, for the benefit of both,” he said.
The President urged UK businessmen to go beyond the Big 4 and explore other areas of immense potential for growth in trade available in sectors such as mining, oil and gas, services and retail, tourism and hospitality.
“In short: the present value of Kenya-UK trade is nowhere near close to its full value. With your help, and with the goodwill of all here today, I look forward to raising our trade and investment to new heights,” said President Kenyatta.
Mrs May said time has come for the two countries to forge a stronger partnership which will leave an indelible mark for current and future generations.
“While our nations have already achieved much together as friends, partners and equals, now is the moment to strengthen our relationship further,” she said, as she called for global peace and prosperity anchored on mutually beneficial partnerships.
“Let us leave the next generation a partnership even more vital than the one we enjoy today- and a world in which all our people enjoy the fruits of peace and prosperity.”
The British Prime Minister further pointed out that her country is now forging a new and more globally connected future even as it exits from the European Union, noting that Kenya is a natural good destination of British investments given the already existing strong ties.