KIGALI, November 19 – President Mwai Kibaki has lauded the business-friendly policies adopted by the government of Rwanda which have led to increased foreign investments in the country.
President Kibaki said as a result of the policies, over 30 Kenyan companies have received approval from the Rwanda Investment Export Promotion Agency.
He noted that the recent entry of Kenya Commercial Bank in the Rwandan market was testimony to the attractive investment conditions that exist in Rwanda.
Said the Head of State: "I am also pleased to note that Equity Bank will soon be spreading its wings to this market."
President Kibaki was speaking on Tuesday evening at the Serena Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda during a state banquet hosted in his honour by President Paul Kagame at the start of his state visit in the country.
The Head of State said over 2,000 Kenyans were also living and working without hindrance in Rwanda due to the progressive policies of Rwandan government.
President Kibaki said in the spirit of shared prosperity and the East African partnership, his government was also keen to provide a favourable business and working environment in order to promote trade and investment in the region.
In this respect, President Kibaki abolished with immediate effect work permits for Rwandan nationals working or carrying out business in Kenya.
The President said the government had also stepped up efforts to rehabilitate the Northern Corridor and instituted measures to eradicate Non-Tariff Barriers to trade with emphasis on reduction of weigh-bridges and road blocks.
"Furthermore, we have introduced a 24-hour operational system at the Port of Mombasa, which I am glad to note, coincides with Rwanda’s extension of opening and closing hours at the Katuna border post. This will reduce delays and increase volume of intra-regional trade between our two countries," President Kibaki said.
He observed that under the Joint Permanent Commission framework which held its 6th Session in Nairobi in July this year, the two countries had made progress and were cooperating in various fields including education, agriculture and livestock, water resources and wildlife management, tourism, health, defence and cooperative development.
Noting that during the Joint Permanent Commission meeting the two countries signed several Memoranda of Understanding on a wide range of issues, the President expressed confidence that his visit to Rwanda would help expedite implementation of these instruments as well as open new avenues for extended bilateral assistance and technical cooperation between the two countries.
In this connection, President Kibaki announced that his government would be making available a number of opportunities to Rwanda to support its capacity building programme in various fields.
"At the same time, our public educational institutions will be made available to Rwandese nationals on the same terms as our own nationals and where possible the government of Kenya will provide partial support," the Head of State said.
The President, once again, reiterated Kenya’s commitment to the East African Integration process and the ongoing negotiations on the East African Common Market Protocol.
He said given the stiff competition and adoption of protectionist policies in the international markets, the East African countries can only find leverage by pulling together in the direction of integration.
Said the President: "We in Kenya are fully committed to the integration process and would like to work even more closely with Rwanda in the spirit of shared prosperity for the mutual benefit of our two countries and peoples."
Referring to the arrest of a senior Rwandan government official in Germany, President Kibaki said Kenya deplored such abuse of jurisdiction and called for her immediate and unconditional release.
"The people of Kenya stand in solidarity with you as you carry on with the remarkable political and socio-economic transformation of your country. It is notable that this transformation is being positively driven by a culture of open political and broad social participation," President Kibaki said.
He added that Kenya would stand by Rwanda and the region in the search for peace and in dealing with external elements that threaten the stability and the well-being of its people.
The President reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to working with the people and government of Rwanda in addressing the challenges that face two countries and the region, saying his state visit should serve as a platform to consolidate ties for the benefit of people the two countries.
"My visit here comes at an opportune time. Rwanda is today a member of the East African Community and I wish to commend your Excellency and your government for the bold steps you have taken to embrace the shared vision of East African integration," President Kibaki said.
He commended the resilience of the Rwandan people which enabled them to rise from the ashes of senseless destruction of life and property to become a nation of great promise on the continent.
He also congratulated to the Rwandan Parliament which now has the largest proportion of women MP’s in the world, saying President Kagame’s leadership is transforming Rwanda into a major player in the region both economically and politically.
On the conflict in Congo, President Kibaki said members of the Great Lakes Region should fully exploit the available mechanisms of peaceful dispute resolution.
Speaking during the occasion, President Kagame thanked President Kibaki and the government of Kenya for denouncing the act of violations of international norms that was visited on a senior Government official of Rwanda.
The Rwandan President called on other African countries to rise up and challenge the injustices meted on the continent by the countries of the West.
Observing President Kibaki’s state visit to Rwanda opens a new chapter in of the two countries’ relations, President Kagame said the enhanced relations will ensure that Kenya and Rwanda achieve their shared vision of prosperity in the broader context of the East African Community.