, ROME, Italy, Sep 7 – The Italian Government has offered to extend and expand its debt swap program, a move that will see Sh4.2 billion injected into key socio-economic projects in Kenya.
The decision was reached on Monday at a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome, Italy.
Under the debt for development swap program, the Government of Italy converted part of its outstanding debt to Kenya to funds that will finance projects in health, education, water and sanitation in high poverty density regions in the country.
President Kenyatta welcomed the expansion and extension of the debt swap program, saying it will go a long way in boosting the Government’s efforts to improve the lives of Kenyans.
President Kenyatta – who is on an official visit in Italy – was formally received by Prime Minister Renzi at the Villa Doria Pamphilj, the official meeting hall, in Rome before the start of the bilateral meeting.
The reception included a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Italian military and playing of the national anthems of Kenya and Italy by the Italian military band.
During the bilateral talks that were attended by Cabinet Secretaries Amina Mohamed, Adan Mohamed and Joseph Nkaissery and Attorney General Githu Muigai, Prime Minister Renzi also offered Italy’s support to Kenya’s war against terrorism through the training Kenya police officers in counter-terrorism.
Italy also pledged to give Kenya equipment for border control and surveillance while the two countries step up their information gathering and sharing.
Details emerging from the meeting indicated that the training of the police officers will commence in October.
President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Matteo discussed joint cooperation in agricultural production to safeguard Kenya’s food security. They also discussed development and financing of small and medium-size enterprises.
On trade, President Kenyatta encouraged Italian companies to invest in Kenya’s manufacturing industry to bridge the balance of trade between the two countries, which is currently in favour of Italy.
Kenyan exports to Italy last year amounted to Sh7 billion against Italian imports valued at Sh20 billion resulting in a balance of trade of Sh13 billion in favour of Italy.
The meeting agreed that the Italian Minister of Trade will visit Kenya to hold discussions with Cabinet Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism; and Industrialization and Enterprise Development on how boost trade between the two countries.
Later, President Kenyatta was hosted to a banquet by Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Rome.