, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – A delegation of 35 Ethiopian entrepreneurs is expected in Kenya on a reciprocal visit to one made by Kenyan manufacturers last August.
The tour also comes against the backdrop of a four-day visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta to Addis Ababa.
Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM) Chief Executive Officer Betty Maina says the businessmen will arrive on Tuesday for a three day visit that will include tours to key value addition facilities in the country, business-to-business meetings with local industrialists and talks with key government officials.
Maina says Ethiopia has made great strides to open up its market and is expected to sign the Free Trade Agreement and become a fully fledged member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) by the end of this year.
“Ethiopians have shown themselves very willing to work with us and we are happy to see Inter-Africa Trade flourish through these joint trade visits,” added Maina.
Jointly, Kenya and Ethiopia provide a market of 125 million people with a joint Gross Domestic Product of Sh5.8 trillion (US$ 67 billion) and this visit is expected to provide an opportunity to create new business ties within the two countries.
Key areas where Ethiopians can learn from Kenya include agro processing and dairy processing sectors as well as Kenya’s mobile sector.
Ethio Telkom, Ethiopia’s sole telecommunication service provider is still under State ownership and getting a mobile phone line takes ages. In comparison, a robust ICT sector has contributed to an innovation ranking of 49 in the latest global competitiveness report and mobile banking services have improved Kenya’s financial penetrability from 20 percent to 60 percent.
Ethiopia on the other hand exports cereals, vegetables, copper, ores, tyres and concentrates, textile yarns, spices to Kenya.
The country also boasts of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, a one of kind trading platform for agricultural commodities that Kenya could borrow a leaf from.
Long term Joint projects in energy and infrastructure development such as LAPSSET are currently underway and both countries have already signed an agreement that will see the building of 800 Km railway line from Lamu to Addis Ababa.
These projects will pave the way for joint private sector investments in the two countries.
Joint promotional activities are envisioned in the Special Status Agreement (SSA) signed in 2012 by former President Mwai Kibaki and Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to promote trade between the two countries.
“The SSA stipulates the setting up of a Private Sector Council for which we do not need the SSA to sign and a step towards the setting up of such a council is if we organise trade visits which give businessmen from both countries the opportunity to test the waters and explore trade possibilities” Maina said.