Foreign Affairs CAS Hon Ababu-Terrah Namwamba, EGH today in Washington DC held talks with the President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, Ms Florizelle Liser. The two discussed Kenya-US trade ties, American investment interests in Kenya, the post-AGOA regime and the upcoming US-Africa Business Summit scheduled for the Mozambican capital Maputo in June 2019 where Kenya is expected to participate. The summit is a platform for US and Africa private sector and government representatives to engage on key sectorial issues, including Agribusiness, energy, Health, infrastructure, housing, ICT, and Finance. The summit will also provide opportunity for countries to showcase current and envisaged projects and investment opportunities.
Hon Ababu said Kenya is keen to work closely with the Council and continues to create conducive environment for businesses to thrive. “Kenya was on a very positive trajectory with all fundamentals just perfect for a robust and bullish business environment that has been injected with the impetus of the Big 4 Agenda championed by President Uhuru Kenyatta himself, focusing on Manufacturing, Affordable Housing, Universal Health and Food Security. The Big 4 is Kenya’s current development and growth compass in our engagement with investors and partners”, the CAS said.
He added that Kenya is looking for partners in areas of value addition in agri-industrial production to generate jobs for a “large pool of young well skilled workforce” and “deployment of appropriate technologies to provide modern affordable housing for its populace reflective of the country’s model status as the home of UN Habitat”. Hon Ababu-Terrah further said that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s historic “Building Bridges” initiative had raised Kenya’s political bar and democratic credentials to a whole new level, further smoothing the business atmosphere in the country.
CAS Ababu noted that Kenya continues to improve the business environment to encourage more investors not only to benefit Kenya but the whole of Africa, “given our country’s unique position both ideologically and geographically”. He urged the Council to maximise Kenya as the natural window into Africa, and take advantage of the momentum of integration exemplified by the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA) that seeks to ease free movement of people, goods and services across the continent, transforming the 1.2 billion African population into a seamless investment and growth platform to promote shared prosperity benefiting even the smallest economies. He further hailed the fast growing African aviation industry as a key trigger for increased intra-Africa volumes of trade as well as connectivity with the world, the recent launch of direct Kenya Airways direct flights from Nairobi to New York being the latest big leap forward.
Ms Liser welcomed this recently launched direct flight saying the interconnectivity was key in supporting Inter-Africa trade improving a competitive aviation industry on the continent. She said she was looking forward to the progress of the US-Kenya Working Group proposed by H.E Uhuru Kenyatta on his last visit to Washington DC.
On Ms Liser’s concerns on security in Kenya following the recent Riverside 14 terrorist attack, Hon Ababu reiterated what he had emphasised in his address to the Conference of Ministerial of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, that terrorism is a global challenge to which no country was immune and could only be defeated through a global approach of concerted efforts by all. “Terror threats are not unique to Kenya. From New York to Nairobi, Madrid to Cairo, Manchester to Lebanon, and beyond, we have all suffered the brunt of terrorism. Though we may speak it in different dialects, we all understand the language of the pain, trauma and loss caused by these merchants of death and fear. We must stand together against this evil”. Saying this spirit of solidarity is the motivation for Kenya joining the anti-ISIS Global Coalition, Hon Ababu assured that Kenya had invested heavily in counter-terrorism measures, including intelligence and response mechanisms, which was demonstrated by the speed, efficiency and effectiveness with which the country’s security agencies handled the Riverside attack. He reiterated that issuing travel advisories was counterproductive and only played into the hands of the terrorists who thrive on spreading fear and disrupting normal activities. He said it was important to counter terrorism by swiftly returning to normalcy post attacks as happened in Nairobi, while deliberately investing in drying up the terror wells at source by stabilising countries like Somalia and Syria. He emphasised the need to support Amisom in Somalia neutralise Al Shabaab and other terrorist groups.
“Every cause needs a champion. We know you are a great friend of Kenya and Africa. Be a champion of a fair and objective narrative and beneficial engagement between USA and Africa,” CAS Ababu-Terrah implored.
Ms Liser assured the CAS of her commitment to help champion and advance progressive US-Kenya/Africa relations and added she was looking forward to the round table private sector business meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta on the sidelines of the 32nd AU Heads of State and Government Summit in Addis where further details of US-Africa engagement will be discussed. She urged Kenya to take full advantage of the forthcoming Maputo US-Africa Business Summit next June to expand American investment in the Big 4 Agenda and beyond.