NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 – President Mwai Kibaki has assured Australian investors that Kenya is an open and safe investment destination.
The Head of State pointed out that within the framework of Kenya\’s national development blueprint, Vision 2030, the Government accorded high priority to attracting investments into the country with an aim of becoming a newly industrializing middle income nation.
The President said; "Australian investors are welcome to take advantage of Kenya\’s strategic location as a gateway to the East African Community and the wider Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa with a market size of close to half a billion people."
He spoke during a State Luncheon in honour of the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Ms Quentin Bryce, at the Serena Hotel.
President Kibaki observed that the two countries shared many interests which made great opportunities of exchanging views of mutual interest on many regional and global issues available.
He expressed confidence that under the framework of the continued cordial relations between the two countries, Kenya would benefit in areas such as capacity building, information technology, infrastructural development and technical cooperation.
"We should encourage our people to interact more, the geographical distance notwithstanding. Australians are invited to visit Kenya to sample some of nature\’s best gifts to mankind including diverse wildlife, beautiful beaches and wonderful climate," he said.
The President Kibaki added that convergent views and common interests held between the two nations should propel them to supporting each other in international foras such the ongoing World Trade Organizations negotiations in Doha, Qatar.
"Kenya looks forward to Australia\’s sustained solidarity as our two countries advocate for a fairer international trading system."
The Head of State also appreciated the substantial humanitarian assistance Australia has extended to Kenya for many years and singled out the recent generous contribution of $3.4 million to alleviate the suffering of Kenyans faced by starvation.
Other sectors in which Australia has accorded support include programmes related to electoral reforms, maternal and child health care, food security, water and sanitation as well as the education sector.
The President termed the inaugural visit by the Governor-General timely as it coincided with her country\’s unveiling of the new Africa Strategy aimed at enhancing engagements with Africa.
He said: "We note that among your priority objectives are supporting Africa\’s efforts to promote economic growth and prosperity through investment and trade, accelerating process towards the Millennium Development Goals and addressing peace and security challenges that continue to confront us."
On her part, the Australian Governor-General acknowledged Kenya\’s rich heritage, evolution of the democracy and the commitment to advance her standing and well being of its people.
Ms Bryce expressed her government\’s commitment for continued partnership with Kenya through Australia\’s investment in development, security, opportunity and human rights.
She said Australia would continue to offer Kenya the necessary assistance and support to face the challenges posed by food and economic security, climate change and public health.
The Governor General said Australia in her broader engagement in Africa was committed to empowering the Continent for the benefit of individual citizens and the global communities in general.
On achievement of the millennium goals by 2015, the Governor General singled out Australia\’s immense investment as imperative in securing a strong and stable future for Africa and the world.
The President Kibaki had earlier met the visiting Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, at State House Nairobi for talks.
During the occasion President Kibaki, on behalf of the people and Government of Kenya, condoled the people of the Commonwealth of Australia following the loss of many human lives and property as a result of bush fires that afflicted the State of Victoria last month.
Ms Bryce commended the Kenyan Government for prioritising and expanding the education sector as confirmed by the Free Primary Education and many citizens enrolling for higher education, which she termed as the foundation of prosperity in any modern nation.
Among areas in which the Australian Government was keen on extending its expertise to Kenya are rain harvesting and dry farming to help the country attain food security and avoid recurrent droughts.