On Friday (May 17), President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted envoys from the European Union at State House.
The envoys, which included UK High Commissioner Nic Hailey and Irish Charge d’affaires Lisa Doherty, participated in a high level dialogue forum which addressed various areas of mutual interest that would further enhance the existing cordial relations between Kenya and the EU member States .
During the meeting, the EU envoys declared their full support for the ongoing purge against corruption and the crackdown on counterfeit goods in Kenya, ahead of the launch of a dialogue forum between the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and European Union Business Council. They agreed that corruption and related economic crimes are a major hindrance to the growth of enterprises and expansion of the investment environment in the country.
Led by the Head of delegation of the European Union (EU) to Kenya Ambassador Stefano Dejak, the envoys expressed their support and encouraged President Kenyatta for the sweeping crackdown on corruption and related economic crimes including proliferation of counterfeit goods in the country.
To demonstrate their commitment in deepening relations between Kenya and the EU, the envoys committed to increase funding for Kenya’s counter-terrorism activities, the Kenya Coast Guard service, value-chain addition in the blue economy and agribusiness programs.
In the meeting attended by Deputy President William Ruto and several Cabinet Secretaries, the EU committed to adding more funds to support of AMISOM and other peace keeping initiatives involving Kenya.
The envoys from 18 EU member states also said they fully support President Kenyatta’s Big 4 development agenda and as a way forward, the bloc committed to deepen its partnership with the government in the development of skilled labour through Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
They said it is through technical and vocational training that the country can build adequate human resource capacity to enable the youth to engage in gainful employment.
On the emerging blue economy sector, the envoys thanked the President for being the African champion and pledged to support Kenya to reap maximum benefits from its vast maritime resources.
The envoys said they will pool their collective experience and utilize it to assist Kenya to accelerate momentum in the development of blue economy sectors such as fisheries and maritime transport for wealth and employment creation.
On the EU-KEPSA forum, the envoys thanked President Kenyatta for facilitating the dialogue saying it will go a long way in enhancing mutually beneficial commercial ties between Kenya and the European Union.
“The dialogue we are holding today sends a strong message to the world of how much Kenya values its development partners,” said Ambassador Dejak.
President Kenyatta thanked the EU for its continued support for Kenya’s development agenda adding that the new pledges by the envoys will help fastrack the country’s push towards attaining the middle income economy status as envisioned in the nation’s Vision 2030 development agenda.
While responding to concerns raised by the envoys regarding delays in clearance of cargo at the port of Mombasa and the challenge of counterfeit goods entering the country, President Kenyatta assured them that every effort is being made to enhance effeciency at the port and that a multi-agency team set up by the government to battle the the menace of counterfeits in the country is winning the war.
“We have consolidated all agencies (from 26) to four and this will create more efficiency in the clearing of goods at the port,” the President said.
The President said he will continue spearheading the war on corruption and welcomed the support of the EU in the struggle saying his determination to restore integrity in the country will never be derailed.
“We are aware that there are those who are out working tirelessly to frustrate the process being undertaken to curb corruption so that we can go back to the old system. We will not be hoodwinked by their sideshows,” President Kenyatta assured.
On national cohesion, President Kenyatta reiterated his commitment to building a more cohesive and peaceful country adding that efforts to unite Kenyans will intensify in coming days.
“We are committed to ensuring that Kenya changes for the better. That is why we are working hard to build a cohesive society. Cohesiveness is not a political agenda,” the President said.
During the EU-KEPSA meeting, several Kenyan and foreign companies outlined their expansion as well as new investment plans in the country totalling to over Shs 40 billion.
Afrinol Holdings Ltd, Nopiaride, BASF and Noorbrook Pharmaceuticals are some of the companies looking to expand their local investment portfolios.
Others are FunKidz, Optiven Real Estate, Delarue, Unity Homes, Tatu City, General Electric and Bidco which has lined up four new industries.
Isuzu will set up a new production line, CEER Processing Ltd is working on new factories in Mombasa and Kisumu while Centum is investing in industrial parks in Kilifi and a fruit processing plant in Kwale at a cost of Shs 600 million.
Horticultural firm Sun Ripe is already taking advantage of the recently signed export of frozen avocado deal between Kenya and China and has so far created 200 new jobs while BAT is growing its footprints in various parts of the country by recruiting more tobacco farmers.
Lisa Doherty described the meeting as “productive and open”, adding that it was “testament to very positive EU-Kenya relations”.