, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 — Germany’s Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday said his country was looking to capitalise on East African integration.
Arriving in Kenya on the heels of the East African Community’s 16th Ordinary Summit, Steinmeier was in the company of 20 German business leaders and industrialists whom he said were eager to take advantage of the opportunities that the opening up of the East African markets would create.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed welcomed the interest and efforts to broaden that integration to include countries in central and some Southern African countries would generate even greater interest from foreign investors.
“We need as many companies as are in Germany to have a presence in Kenya because the population of Kenya is not just 44 million. This is an entry point to the rest of Africa and with the agreements that we have signed within the continent we’ll soon have a market size of 600 million plus. Whichever way you look at it, we’ll soon have a bigger market for Germany than Germany has in Europe,” she said.
Amina said Kenya was also in talks with Germany to increase the number of scholarships that the country currently benefits from through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Stability, Steinmeier however emphasised, was key to the continent’s economic prosperity.
Singling out the conflicts in Somalia and South Sudan, Steinmeier said political solutions as opposed to military intervention were key to long-term stability. And in both respects, he said Germany would support Kenya’s efforts to bring peace.
Peace in Somalia and South Sudan, Amina said, were a top priority for her Ministry.
“We’re not ignoring Somalia. We have over 5,000 Kenyan boots on the ground. We have actually borne the brunt of the outflow of refugees from Somalia,” she said.
Some of whom, about 1,500, Kenya has already repatriated and the fate of many more is unknown following the signing into law of amendments to the refugee act that limits the number of refugees the country can host.
On the South Sudan conflict, Amina said Kenya was optimistic that a resolution would soon be reached after President Uhuru Kenyatta brokered a deal that would see those who had been subjected to political detainment return to the country.