NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 2 – Kenya on Wednesday courted Tanzanian investors to explore its market as a way of mitigating the trade imbalance which is in favour of the most prosperous East African economy.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga pointed out that exports from Kenya to Tanzania between 2007 and 2008 increased by 27 percent while those from Tanzania registered a 17 percent growth.
A bilateral meeting between Mr Odinga and the visiting Tanzanian Premier Mizengo Peter Pinda noted that Kenya\’s investment portfolio in Tanzania of over Sh160.72 billion had helped to create more jobs for Tanzanians.
The two Premiers have re-affirmed commitment to encouraging free movement of people, trade and investments across their borders.
Mr Odinga noted that considerable progress had been made in negotiations on the common market protocol to be signed at the East African Community Summit in November where issues of land, usage of national identity cards and permanent residency have been addressed.
“Sustained efforts and fruition in this endevour will enable us reap the full benefits of shared prosperity which we all deserve in the East African Community,” he said.
“The two countries could further benefit from modern and efficient infrastructure like development of the Songo Songo gas plant in Tanzania with a transmission line to Kenya, exchange of expertise for development of geothermal power plants and improvement of road network between the two countries as classic examples,” he added.
Mr Odinga lauded Presidents Mwai Kibaki and Jakaya Kikwete for their directive to revive the joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation, noting that the first session of the cooperation will take place in Arusha from September 5 to September 6.
“The forum will enable a review of the status of our bilateral cooperation, seek ways of solving any challenges that may stand in the way, resolve the outstanding issues that have been identified and agree on the new areas for increased cooperation,” he added.
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said a stronger economy in the East African region would attract international investments and mitigate the effects of drought, poverty and unemployment.
He outlined the importance of the private sector in economic growth and said it must be mainstreamed in the national economies of individual countries in the region.
Mr Odinga paid tribute to Tanzania for being instrumental in the signing of the national accord that brought peace to the country following the post election violence, noting former President Benjamin Mkapa and President Jakaya Kikwete played leading roles in these efforts.
He also thanked Tanzanian for supplying maize to Kenya when the country faced severe food shortages following prolonged drought saying it demonstrated the good neighbourliness that exist between the two countries.
The Tanzanian Premier disclosed that 67 districts in his country were experiencing severe drought and he expressed fear that it could have a negative effect on country’s GDP that stands at five percent.
He lauded Kenya for being in the forefront in the fight against piracy on the East Africa coast, noting that piracy from Somalia was a major threat and impediment to regional economies.
He said: “We are planning to build landmark offices for a High Commission in Nairobi, as a reciprocal effort to the Harambee Plaza built by Kenya in Dar-es-Salaam as a demonstration of the seriousness with which my country views relations with Kenya.”