MAPUTO, Mar 28 – President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Thursday start a State visit to Mozambique to promote trade, enhance bilateral relations and especially on the blue economy.
The blue economy has been highlighted as a key sector in manufacturing, which is one of the pillars of President Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
Ahead of the visit, Amb. Monica Juma, the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said discussions in Mozambique will revolve around value addition in a number of areas, top among them being the blue economy – all aimed at benefitting the people of the two countries.
Kenya will in November this year host a High-Level Conference on Sustainable Blue Economy.
The blue economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of marine and coastal ecosystem.
“Mozambique is a sea-facing country as we are. There has been a growing interest in the Indian Ocean Rim, which both Kenya and Mozambique are members. And so some of the discussions that are going to take place will be on how we can connect trade, how we can add value on our ocean, particularly on the blue economy,” said Amb. Juma.
Mozambique is part of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, an international organization comprising 21 coastal nations bordering the Indian Ocean. Its objectives include promoting sustainable growth, balanced development and removal of impediments to the free flow of goods, services, investment and technology among member states.
Amb. Juma dubbed the President’s State Visit to Mozambique ‘linking the Swahili Coast from Maputo to Lamu’ and bilateral talks will feature cooperation between the two countries in boosting transport links to promote trade as well as people to people interactions.
Mozambique is officially a Portuguese speaking country but it’s President, Felipe Nyusi, also speaks Swahili.
Trade between Kenya and Mozambique has continued to register steady growth over the years, with Kenya’s total export to Mozambique increasing from $ 6.61 million in 2007 to $ 11.8 million in 2017.
But despite the two countries having signed a Joint Permanent Commission for Co-operation agreement in 1991, trade volumes have remained below potential. It is expected that President Kenyatta’s visit to Mozambique will stimulate new impetus for increased trade between the two countries.
Kenya’s major exports to Mozambique include prefabricated buildings, plastic items, animal and vegetable fats, tableware, kitchenware, fruit and vegetable juices among others.
There is potential for Kenya to export edible oils, tea, pharmaceuticals, beauty care products, packaging products, dairy products, textiles, apparel, leather products, construction materials as well as capacity to export services in general and professional services in particular.
Imports from Mozambique include sugar, molasses and honey, aluminium, coal and non-ferrous base metal among others.
State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu highlighted Mozambique’s wealth in terms of natural gas, and offshore wealth, and said it had much to share with Kenya.
Discussions would focus on how to extract resources in a sustainable manner as part of empowering both our economies, Esipisu said.
On the bilateral front, the President’s Visit will seek to deepen an already existing cordial and friendly relations between Kenya and Mozambique as well as enhancing people to people interactions.
“We have a long history with Mozambique. As you may know, even during the Mozambican civil war, Kenya played a key role in terms of helping to negotiate between the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO),” said CS Amb. Juma
She pointed out that the two countries also enjoy cultural ties with one of the most recent Kenyan tribes, the Makonde, being descendants from Mozambique.
“We will be talking about how we can enhance this people to people diplomacy, people to people interaction but also a friendship that is historically rooted,” Amb. Juma said.
Early last year, President Kenyatta issued members of the Makonde community living in Kenya’s South Coast with national Identity cards and officially declared the community the 43rd Kenyan tribe.
The Makonde have their origins in Mozambique.
Apart from President Kenyatta and his host President Nyusi leading their delegations in bilateral talks, the Kenyan leader is also scheduled to give a public lecture at one of the special institutes of international relations in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo.
President Kenyatta will also visit a number of key installations including the Maputo Port with a view to expanding areas of cooperation between the two countries.
Amb. Juma is optimistic that President Kenyatta’s State Visit to Mozambique will bring significant returns to Kenya in terms of both Government to Government relations and boosting people to people interactions.