, MILAN, Italy, Sep 9 – President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday opened the Kenya-Italy Business Forum with an assurance to the Italian business community that his government has streamlined the visa issuance process to make the document more accessible.
The President said the introduction of online visa application by his government was aimed at making it easy for Italian businesspeople and tourists to travel to Kenya.
“Anybody who wishes to travel to Kenya can apply online and receive the visa on arrival at any point in Kenya,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta spoke in Italy when he opened the business forum that was organised by the Milan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Milan Expo 2015 and the Kenya Export Promotion Council.
The President said the government was exploiting ways of ensuring direct flights from Italy to Kenya as a move to boost trade between the two countries.
He challenged the Kenyan business community and their Italian counterparts to work closely in improving trade between Kenya and Italy.
“This forum is an opportunity to exchange ideas, experience, and expertise, and to see how we can tighten our economic ties. The one-on-one matchmaking sessions between Italian and Kenyan businesses are a particularly useful way to meet those aims,” he said.
President Kenyatta singled out the energy and infrastructure sectors as some of the areas that required the attention of Kenyan and Italian investors.
“Let me indicate certain sectors in which I feel it possible to make rapid gains. Kenya is admirably placed when it comes to green and renewable energy: we have substantial reserves of geothermal power, for example,” the President said.
He added: “But we remain intensely focused on increasing our output of clean energy, without neglecting the possibilities that our recent discoveries of oil have opened up.”
President Kenyatta informed the forum that his government has invested heavily in upgrading the port of Mombasa, the railway and roads to as part of its effort to create a conducive environment for business to thrive.
The Head of State said given Kenya’s position as East Africa’s largest economy and regional hub, Italian investors will not go wrong by setting base in the country.
The President of Italy’s Lombardy region, Roberto Maroni, said although trade between Kenya and Italy was growing fast, there was still room for expansion.
“We will achieve more if we hold frequent engagements and business forums such as this one,” Maroni said.
He said the economic ties between Kenya and Italy – which are long and historic – need to be nurtured continuously for the people of the two countries to enjoy the benefits.
The forum was attended by Cabinet Secretaries Adan Mohamed, Phyllis Kandie, Hassan Wario, Najib Balala, Attorney-General Githu Muigai and a host of business leaders from Kenya including the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) national Chairman Kiprono Kittony. Others were Governors Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Amason Kingi (Kilifi) and Paul Chepkwony (Kericho).