Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta Visiting Ethiopia
March 1, 2019 (Ezega.com) - Kenyan President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is expected in the country starting today as reported by the Ethiopian State Media, EBC.
During his visit, he’ll meet Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahlework Zewde, who previously worked in Kenya.
The three leaders will discuss among other issues, bilateral relations touching on diverse areas. The leaders are expected to attend the Ethio-Kenyan Investment Forum intended to nurture commerce and economic engagements between the two East African nations.
Kenya and Ethiopia have maintained trade ties for long as they’re members of the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) trade bloc.
Ethiopia first established ties with Kenya way back in 1907, when the Kenya-Ethiopia border was identified. In 1961, while Kenya was still under the British, Ethiopia appointed the first Ambassador to Kenya. Six years later, Kenya opened its embassy in Addis Ababa.
However, commerce tends to be unidirectional as Ethiopia imports goods from Kenya. In 2012, Ethiopia exported goods worth $4 million dollars to Kenya, whereas Kenya exported $54 worth of goods in the opposite direction.
In the corresponding year, the two nations signed a Special Status Agreement stipulating that both parties can open representative offices in each other’s country to facilitate trade, commerce, exchange of information, and for liaison purposes. The deal was ratified by the Ethiopian parliament in April 2014.
Additionally, the two nations have invested in cross-border infrastructural development. In 2012, the Addis-Nairobi road project commenced. It was meant to tarmac the 505 km section between Moyale on the frontier and Isiolo. The road is already completed.
In 2016, the two nations agreed to construct an oil pipeline running from the Lamu port to Addis Ababa. This is one of the notable infrastructural projects the two countries are engaged in.
So, what Opportunities does this Visit Offer the Business Community?
Though Kenya’s economic growth rate has been 6%, the World Bank Economic Update Report indicates it can’t match that of Ethiopia and Rwanda, whose annual growth rate is way above 6%. With Ethiopia, it goes above 10% annually.
However, it’s not been smooth sailing for Ethiopia. Despite having the largest livestock population in the continent, Ethiopia’s milk deficiency is close to 90%. Kenya’s dairy industry is booming and presents another great opportunity for an economic partnership that can benefit both parties.
This has been done in the past when Ethiopia representatives came to Kenya several years ago to study the tea industry. This has made Ethiopia a strategic supplier of tea due to its close proximity to tea consuming nations like Egypt, Sudan, and the Middle East despite being landlocked.
Kenya can also benefit, especially in the food and beverage industry. Ethiopia imports beverages from South Africa, which is far yet Kenya can easily meet the country’s beverage demands.
Another area that Ethiopia should consider partnering with its neighbor is the mobile sector, especially in niche products like in the mobile money transfer that can benefit many Ethiopians.
Bearing In mind the huge delegation the Kenyan head of state is coming with---100 government representatives, members of the corporate sector and representatives of the business community---expect trade deals to be signed --- between the two governments.
The deliberations will be held at the recently opened Skylight Hotel in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Kenya and Ethiopia enjoy a cordial relationship, including a defense pact, despite being in a turbulent region.