NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 24 – Kenya’s trade and investment relationship with the East will not affect projects and programmes being funded by the European Union (EU), the head of mission said on Tuesday.
Country’s EU Head of Cooperation Erik Habers said the Union does not feel any trade threat despite the recent focus by Kenya to the East especially on awarding some of its major infrastructure projects to Chinese companies.
Speaking to Capital FM Business, Haber said EU will continue with its funding programmes and projects adding that Kenya was free to trade with any country and that there was no competition.
“The choice for infrastructure by Kenya is a very good choice. But there is a room for a lot of players in the infrastructure area and there is no overcrowding. EU has been investing in infrastructure in Kenya for decades,” Haber said.
“I don’t think going East is a threat in infrastructure sector investment at all. There is a large need in the country,” he added.
He said infrastructure should not only be seen in terms of building of roads, adding that EU has invested a lot in the energy sector as well.
“Currently there is a big wind plant near Lake Turkana, 500 Megawatts, which is financed to a large extent, by the European Union. So I would even welcome more partners to invest in infrastructure because the country needs to grow further,” Haber said.
He also denied that the EU has been giving too many conditions tied to its grants for major projects hence the reason for Kenya to seek more financial funding from the East.
“Conditionality in the sense of giving money expecting a return is not there. But conditionality in the sense that we want transparency and accountability, Yes. So there is a big distinction in development between loans and grants,” he said.
He said EU is now laying a seven- year plan which he said will see a big chunk of its funding go to agriculture and energy in Kenya.
“In agriculture we will focus on the sugar sector to make it more competitive, helping developing agricultural policies by incorporating the private sector and also work on increasing the quality of agricultural products and livestock products,” he emphasized.
Meanwhile the EU market will also work toward encouraging more imports from Kenya to allow equal trade partnership.
The European Union is a single market comprising 27 member States of 500 million consumers.
According to data from Eurostat published in January 2013, trade with the EU represents 17.2percent of Kenya’s overall trade, followed by China at 11.7percent.
Kenya has been challenged to diversify into value-added manufactured goods as tourism, tea and cut flower exports alone are not enough.