We were in Brussels, which is the headquarters of the EU for the last couple of days and on top of that we had the opportunity to meet up with His Majesty the King as well as the Prime Minister and also had the opportunity to meet up with the Belgium business community with a view of trying to improve our partnership between ourselves, Belgium and more importantly the European community which is our biggest trading and investment partner.
With the King, we discussed issues ranging from trade to security, development co-operation; Kenya as well as Belgium have a history of co-operation and partnership that stems back to the early 60s and 70s. In recent years, these ties have been strengthened through trade between our countries – the volume which has risen significantly through the years from about 11 billion Euros from 2004 to more than 20 billion Euros in 2015.
Kenya has also been a beneficiary of Belgium generosity through various projects that have sported the development of our IT, infrastructure and capacity. The education of our people – the strengthening of our renewable energy sector. Development of our fishery sectors amongst many other things.
The past few days provided us with platforms for us to build on an already very strong foundation of co-operation between our two countries and we agreed to continue co-operating especially in areas relating to climate change and infrastructure development as we seek to even out the balance of trade between our two countries.
Indeed, following my discussion with the two leaders, I also had an opportunity to carry on a very constructive dialogue with members of the Belgian business community and I am looking forward to welcoming them to Kenya where they have already been, a total four times over the last three years to see how we can intensify that dialogue and interaction with them.
We also attended the European Development Days Conference that took place in Brussels. I had an opportunity to meet the Vice President of the European Commission; the European Union has turned out to be a strong supporter of trade development and security, not just in Kenya, but in Africa as a whole and I look forward to Kenya continuing to be part of bolstering the relationship between our region, especially the East African region and the European Union, which as I stated is our largest trading and investment as well as development partner.
Personally, I am particular encouraged by the unparalleled support that the EU has given to Kenya also, in the ongoing peace and stability mission in Somalia.
Eighty percent of the contributions to AMISOM come directly from the EU. I think that is an area that we all have an undeniable vested interest in continuing co-operating together as we seek to secure our region.