President Kibaki, at the same time, encouraged private sectors in the two countries to expand their activities and diversify the range of products and services to benefit from bilateral trade.
The president made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri during a meeting with business executives and members of the Malawi business community at the Bingu Conference Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The Head of State, who is in Malawi on a two-day state visit to lay the foundation for increased, robust economic and commercial relations between the two countries, expressed optimism that closer working relations would increase trade and investment and therefore improve the livelihoods of people in the two countries.
“It is my hope that the government and private sector in Malawi will partner more closely with their Kenyan counterparts in order to achieve the common goal of improved socio-economic development,” said the president.
President Kibaki affirmed that Malawi and Kenya, which are both active members of COMESA, are particularly keen on the elimination of non-tariff barriers to ensure that infrastructure bottlenecks to trade are resolved.
Expressing Kenya’s commitment in facilitating trade within the COMESA trading bloc, the president said his government was setting up one-stop boarder points and expand the container capacity at the port of Mombasa to handle more wares.
The Head of State thanked the Malawi business community for their cooperation and support for the ongoing reforms in customs and border-crossing formalities particularly at the port of Mombasa where the country’s tea and tobacco exports pass through.
Sharing with the Malawi business community how Kenya has been able to support the private sector in its efforts to achieve growth, the president noted that over the last 10 years, the government has actively improved the business environment by investing in infrastructure, streamlining licensing procedures and simplifying the tax regime.
In addition, President Kibaki said the government initiatives which also include pursuing a prudent monetary and fiscal policy framework has contributed to the creation and expansion of numerous business activities across the country.
As a result of the initiatives, the Head of State observed that the private sector in Kenya is today one of the most vibrant and fastest growing in Africa.
President Kibaki said sectors such as agriculture, financial services, ICT, hospitality, and construction are thriving and creating the much needed employment for the country’s youth.
“In addition, small and medium size enterprises have been on the increase primarily in the mobile telephony sub-sector due to the exponential growth of mobile money services offered by our telecommunication companies” he added.
On public funding, the president acknowledged the pivotal role played by the private sector in resource mobilisation to finance government development programmes.
The Head of State noted with appreciation that the Infrastructural bonds issued by the government and State-owned agencies have been a massive success while also helping in financing road construction, water and sanitation projects as well as the setting up of electricity generation plants.
President Kibaki once more hailed the fraternal relations enjoyed by Kenya and Malawi which he said was anchored on the common economic, cultural and historic ties.
Speaking during the occasion, Malawian Industry and Trade Minister Gwengwe Soste said his country was pursuing a policy that would ensure a more conducive environment to foreign investors to tap the many untapped opportunities existed in the country.