NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – Deputy President William Ruto was on Wednesday scheduled to lead a Kenyan delegation to the 5th Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development (TICAD).
Ruto, who is representing President Uhuru Kenyatta, will be among more than 50 heads of state and government at the meeting, providing a rare opportunity to present Kenya’s strategic interests at a multilateral level.
The deputy president is expected to discuss more opportunities for the country with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“Among Kenya’s top priority areas for discussions with the Japanese government and investment companies include infrastructure development particularly the Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor (LAPSSET), Kenya Ports Authority, energy, agriculture and education sectors,” Ruto’s office said in a statement.
Kenya will also seek to increase its exports to Japan and intensify Japanese investments in manufacturing of exports in order to reduce the balance of trade which is highly in favour of Japan.
In 2011 Kenya’s exports to Japan were valued at Sh2,189,453, 678 against imports of Sh58,683,111,124.
The conference that will be held from June 1 to 3 is aimed at promoting high level policy dialogue between Japan and African leaders.
The meeting also provides an opportunity to strengthen cooperation and support to Africa’s political, economic reforms and development.
Also in attendance will be United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, as well as World Bank and UNDP administrator Helen Clark.
Japan considers Kenya a strategic partner within TICAD process given its successful economic development and thus a model of its development cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Japan is one of Kenya’s leading development partners with Japanese financial cumulative support to Kenya’s development amounting to US$418.94 billion.
In January this year, Japan extended Sh617.6 million to Kenya’s agriculture sector and water services.
Japan launched TICAD in 1991 as its flagship programme for its relations with Africa.
The meeting is a follow up to TICAD IV held in May 2008, which was attended by 51 African heads of state and government, high-level representatives of 34 other countries and 75 international organisations.
The Kenyan delegation includes Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed (Foreign Affairs), Henry Rotich (Treasury), Davis Chirchir (Energy and Petroleum) and Michael Kamau (Transport & Infrastructure), and other senior government officials.
The theme of TICAD V will be ‘Hand in Hand with a more Dynamic Africa’ which expresses the need to work together.
In addition to representing Kenya in the main TICAD V programme, the deputy president will also participate in other scheduled events of strategic importance to Kenya to be held at the sidelines of the conference.
These include a conference on Somalia and dialogue on the United Nations Security Council Reform agenda.
The stabilisation of Somalia remains a top priority in Kenya’s foreign policy agenda as articulated in the African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.