NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 — Kenya is positioning itself to act as a bridge between Africa and the people of the Caribbean.
The country is already planning to host the first ever conference that will bring together the African Union member countries and the countries that are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The conference will be held in Nairobi next year just ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government that will also be held in Kigali Rwanda.
The announcement of the conference to bring together Africans of the continent and those from the Caribbean was announced at State House, Nairobi, Wednesday when President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley.
PM Mottley was received in an elaborate ceremony complete with a 19 gun salute before she held talks with President Kenyatta.
The two leaders later held bilateral talks where they were joined by their respective delegations.
They later oversaw the signing of two agreements between Kenya and Bardbados as the two countries announced that they will be bridges between Africa and the Caribbean.
One of the agreements that President Kenyatta and PM Mottley witnessed was for the avoidance of double taxation. The other agreement was a Memorandum of Understanding on Health that will allow Kenyan universities to enter into partnership with Barbados in training medical students.
PM Mottley said her country is eager to have Kenya Airways fly to Barbados and onwards to North America as part of efforts to link the two regions.
“It boggles the mind that despite all the time there has been no attempt to deepen the relationship between the two regions,” said the Barbadian leaders.
She said Barbados will appoint an Ambassador to Kenya in April next year as she invited Kenyan investors to explore opportunities in her country and use it as a launching pad for the larger Caribbean markets.
She said Kenya and Barbados can partner in many fields including tourism where Kenya is a world leader in safari destinations while Barbados leads in Beach tourism.
In the field of education, PM Mottley said a number of Kenyan schools have been chosen to twin with similar institutions in Barbados so that the youth can learn from each other.
“It is good to know about each other, but it is much better to know each other. The youth are more inquisitive, and they will grow up when they know each other,” said the Prime Minister.
She said the current crop of leaders have a responsibility to bridge the gap that has existed for centuries between Africa and the Africans of the diaspora.
On his part, President Kenyatta said PM Mottley’s visit is historic since it is the first visit by a Barbadian leader to East Africa.
He said he is ready to champion and forge close links between Africa and the people of the Caribbean.
President Kenyatta noted that Kenya and Barbados will soon sign an air services agreement to lay ground for direct flights between the two countries.
He said issues of mutual interest will be discussed at the conference that will bring together the African Union and Caricom.
Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affarirs), Ukur Yattani (National Treasury), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Peter Munya (Trade and Industry), Amina Mohamed (Sports), Farida Karoney (Lands) and Sicily Kariuki (Health) attended the bilateral meeting.