NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – President Mwai Kibaki has welcomed the decision by the Turkish Airlines to commence direct flights to Nairobi.
The President said the move will enhance the free flow of traffic between Kenya and Turkey, leading to several mutual economic benefits for the two countries.
“It will also enable Turkish investors to take advantage of Kenya’s strategic location as a gateway to the markets within the East African Community and the wider COMESA region,” President Kibaki said.
The President spoke on Friday during a state banquet he hosted in honour of visiting Turkish President Abdullah Gul at a Nairobi hotel.
Noting that Kenya and Turkey have unique strengths and capabilities that can be used to establish strategic partnership, the Head of State commended the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency’s excellent track record in Africa.
He said the agency in collaboration with UN-Habitat has applied Turkey’s advanced housing experience in Kenya through the Slum Upgrading programme in Mombasa.
“We are desirous of expanding this programme to other urban areas experiencing similar challenges,” he said.
The President also welcomed the keen interest demonstrated by Turkish firms on Kenyan commodities particularly coffee, tea, leather, textiles and sisal fibres and encouraged Turkish investors to take the necessary steps to translate this interest into tangible economic engagements.
President Kibaki expressed confidence that the Turkish trade and investment delegation accompanying the Turkish President would have fruitful interactions with their Kenyan counterparts and explore the possibilities of establishing partnerships in various commercial and industrial sectors.
Saying the Turkish President’s visit was a clear testimony to the warm and cordial relations existing between Kenya and Turkey, President Kibaki said the visit should further enhance the relations and deepen the friendship and understanding between the two countries.
“I assure you of Kenya’s commitment to our mutual endeavour to broaden and strengthen our bilateral relations” President Kibaki said.
He commended the Turkish President for steering Turkey’s rapid economic progress that has seen the country ranked among the fastest growing economies in the world, saying Kenya is willing to work closely with Turkey in order to learn from the country’s experiences on economic growth.
President Kibaki also congratulated Turkey for being elected to the UN Security Council, saying with Turkey at the Security Council, Kenya had a dependable friend who will no doubt help front Africa’s agenda and lend the much needed voice in tackling the challenges of Africa.
The President also encouraged Turkey to open an office in Nairobi to enhance the cooperation in a wide range of areas and serve as the launch pad for Turkey’s activities in the region.
“I look forward to working hand in hand with Turkey in further fortifying our cooperation in various sectors of our two countries. I am convinced that new horizons for further cooperation between our countries exist,” President Kibaki said.
On his part, President Gul said Turkey valued the existing cordial relations and cooperation with Kenya and is determined to strengthen it further for the benefit of the people of the two countries.
“Kenya is a strong and influential country in Africa and we want to see the existing cooperation enhanced for the benefit of the two countries,” President Gul said.
In this regard, the Turkish President encouraged Turkish business people to invest more in Kenya in order to strengthen the existing cooperation.
This is President Gul’s first visit to Kenya and Africa as a whole. He is accompanied by his wife, First Lady Hayrunnisa Gul and several Turkish business people.