NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley yesterday opened the Caribbean Community Diplomatic Office at Two Rivers Complex on Limuru Road during an event graced by business mogul Dr Chris Kirubi and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma.
Speaking during the official opening of the office, Prime Minister Mottley thanked the Kenyan government for offering the facility to the Caribbean Community countries pledging to use the office to unlock opportunities in trade and investment.
She emphasized the need to forge stronger ties between Caribbean and African countries describing the partnership between the two blocs as that of historic necessity.
CS Juma described the opening of the diplomatic office as a significant “strategic move.”
Dr Kirubi said he was delighted to welcome on board the Caribbean Community, urging them to explore investment opportunities in the country.
The office, located in the heart of the country’s diplomatic district and across the street from the United Nation’s principal home on the continent, is expected to be a hive of activity in the near future as Caribbean governments set out to deepen relations with their African counterparts.
Mottley said she found the occasion to be very emotional, given the blood, sweat and tears several persons had expended to get to this stage after centuries of exploitation.
“Our region and Africa have been separated, not just by the Atlantic Ocean, but by centuries of division and exploitation,” she told those attending the ceremony.
“And we as a region are adamant that we will not allow this separation to continue any further. When we claim our Atlantic destiny, we are conscious that we are coming home; we are conscious that we are igniting the bonds that may have been sparked by our predecessors in North Atlantic capitals but borne out of common values and a common battle.
“We believe that it is incumbent on our generation to move to the next level and that we have no one else to blame now but ourselves if we do not remove the separation that was foisted upon us for centuries.”
She reminded those attending that the promise to secure a place for a regional mission was made by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, when he visited Barbados earlier this year, when all parties agreed that the forging of closer ties was an “historic necessity”.
“This is but only one of many steps we will take in the next few months that will communicate to our people, as well as to those who are watching from outside, that this is not a fly-by-night relationship.
“It is one that will be anchored deeply and which is intended to unleash people-to-people communication and cooperation and the trade and investment opportunities such that our nations can prosper by relying on each other, and not simply on those from the North Atlantic,” the Prime Minister said, in the presence of a Barbados delegation that included Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr Jerome Walcott.
Mottley also promised that when she takes over as Chairman of CARICOM in just over a month she would work closely with the Kenyan Government and business community to “make real, the first CARICOM/Africa summit”.
Speaking ahead of Mottley, Kenya’s Foreign Minister Juma congratulated CARICOM leaders for the significant “strategic move” of setting up the mission.
“You have a strong advocate in Uhuru Kenyatta and you can be assured of Kenya’s solidarity,” she said.
“Our Afrocentric foreign policy in unambiguous in its focus to strengthen our relations within the continent and to reach out to people of African origin… We will continue to forge closer ties with people of African origin at the bilateral level as well as through the African Union.”
Prime Minister Mottley unveiled a plaque and cut a ribbon at the entrance to the office and then stood on the balcony of the high-rise complex to take in the view that will greet those regional representatives who will eventually be stationed there.
Additional reporting by Barbados PMO Press Office