BANJUL, Gambia, Jul 16 – Kenya will host the next Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) summit scheduled next year after a stalemate with Gambia over who between them would host the summit was unlocked Wednesday.
Kenya was given the honour to host the summit when the President of the Gambia Yahya Jammeh withdrew his country’s offer to host the summit in favour of Kenya following lobbying by a Kenyan delegation led by Deputy President William Ruto in Banjul.
Ruto who was President Uhuru Kenyatta’s special envoy expressed Kenya’s gratitude to the AU and in particular the six African countries namely Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Egypt and now Gambia who had offered to host the summit but have now all withdrawn in favour of Kenya.
He said: “I wish to express my gratitude for the overwhelming confidence that the African continent has shown in giving Kenya the opportunity to host the summit and assure them, Japan and other co-organisers of its success.”
“President Jammeh’s move to withdraw his country from hosting the summit and giving Kenya the chance was a demonstration of great statesmanship and pan-Africanship, the gesture is generous open and a warm hearted agreement.”
President Jammeh assured Kenya of his full support in ensuring that she successfully hosts the summit, adding it was not about Kenya or Gambia but about the continent of Africa.
Said President Jammeh: “I believe in joint economic collaboration between Africa and Japan and this summit will go a long way in ensuring the success of that collaboration.”
The two leaders agreed that unlocking of the stalemate was a demonstration that African countries can work together and break any barriers that could arise between them.
They also talked of bilateral matters especially in tourism, trade and investment, agriculture, agro -processing, education and other pertinent issues that would promote the socio-economic well being of the two countries.
President Jammeh and Ruto said there was need for Kenya and Gambia to set up a joint commission for cooperation to have a solid framework for engagement.
The Deputy President announced plans to have Kenya Airways extend its West African route to Banjul, saying it will unlock the great economic potential there is in trade and investment between the two countries.
President Jammeh expressed his desire to have nationals from his country be trained in Kenya especially in tourism, wildlife management and in judicial reforms.
In reply, Ruto said Kenya would offer five scholarships to Gambians to study in Kenyan institutions adding Gambians could also benefit from Kenyan institutions in wildlife management, forest conservation, judiciary and other technical institutions for benchmarking.
Gambia’s Foreign Minister Neneh Nacdoul Gaye said Gambians were elated to support Kenya in successfully hosting the summit noting her country had not been opposed to Kenya hosting the summit in the first place. She added the success of the summit was the success of the African people.