LUANDA, Angola, Jun 14 – President Uhuru Kenyatta and his host José Eduardo dos Santos held talks in the Angolan capital Luanda on Tuesday, focused on the rapidly growing trade and bilateral cooperation between the two nations, both ranked among Africa’s strongest economies.
The bilateral talks came on the margins of the 6th International Conference on the Great Lakes region (ICGLR). Angola is chair of the ICGLR.
On the agenda was the easing of barriers to trade and business between Kenya and Angola, one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, and which has a keen eye to diversify away from oil.
The two leaders considered easing the visa regime to ensure that Kenyans have improved access to Angola’s markets, and, in return, that Angola’s private sector can make the most of the opportunities that Kenya offers. Under Kenya’s progressive visa regime, Angolans can already access visas on arrival at a Kenyan port of entry.
At President Kenyatta’s request, President Dos Santos said that Angola would look to allow national carrier Kenyan Airways to increase scheduled direct passenger flights, use larger aircraft to replace the current Embraer and Boeing 737 that ply the route thrice a week, and launch cargo flights. President Dos Santos said this would be possible when a new airport, currently under construction, was completed.
Kenya also sought a review of the rules governing Angola’s investor licenses and work permits, and requested that the wealthy Southwest African nation reconsider foreign exchange regulations which hamper business relations.
The leaders agreed that the matter be dealt with in the context of a wider exchange of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding when the two leaders hold a summit.
President Dos Santos said that he looked to honour President Kenyatta’s invitation to make a state visit to Kenya in the second half of the year. Kenyan Foreign Ministry officials said they hoped to pin down an August date. The Angolan leader had been due to visit Kenya, but the trip was put back due to other engagements.
The Luanda meeting comes in the wake of a joint economic framework signed in 2014, which established the ground rules for cooperation in business and trade between the two countries.
Angola is Africa’s largest oil producer, and one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, its GDP rising to $124 billion in 2014, and growth averaging nearly 10 percent a year in the decade to 2015. President Dos Santos said Angola was willing to exchange knowledge and experience in the oil sector, to help grow Kenya’s nascent oil business.
The country of 24 million, a net importer of consumable goods, is one of Africa’s largest potential markets, especially for commodities. Kenya, which is only four hours away from Angola by plane, is looking to supply tea, coffee, flowers, fresh vegetables, diary produce, and sugar to Angolan markets.
President Kenyatta told President Dos Santos that Kenya would also look to assist Angola improve its capacity and skills in services, including banking, hospitality and tourism, in which the east African nation thrives.
Kenya was also prepared to help Angola grow its agriculture sector, as part of the quest to diversity away from oil, President Kenyatta told President Dos Santos.