TOAST STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF THE INDEPENDENCE DAY OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC, MARCH 28, 2018
Your Excellency, Amb. Konstantinos Moatsos,
Excellences Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- It is a great honour and pleasure to join you on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Kenya to celebrate the Independence Day of the Hellenic Republic of Greece. This important day commemorates the historic moment on March 25th 1821 when Greece began its campaign for independence after nearly four centuries of Ottoman rule. I warmly congratulate our Greek brethren on this auspicious occasion.
- Greece, perched at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia, stands proudly in the pantheon of nations as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, and its contributions to literature, science and culture have left an indelible mark on the world as we know it today.
- This gathering offers us an opportune moment to reflect on the strong bonds of friendship that exist between Greece and Kenya. The Embassy of the Hellenic Republic in Nairobi was established in 1966, three years after our own liberation struggle culminated in independence. Since then our partnership has continued to blossom as exemplified by the high level exchange of visits in the recent past.
- These include the visit to Kenya in 2016 by the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, Mr. Dimitris Mardas, who led a business delegation of 14 Greek companies from across various sectors inter alia agriculture, tourism, construction and machinery. In September, 2017 the then Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Amina Mohamed visited Athens to participate in the Athens Democracy Forum.
- Greece is an important trade and investment partner for Kenya, with over 40 Greek companies active in Kenya. The total volume of trade between the two countries stood at 1.3 billion shillings in 2016, an increase of 124% compared to 2010. Imports from Greece currently make up 77% of total trade between our two countries, and therefore as we redouble our efforts to increase the volume and value of trade and investment, we also need to address the trade imbalance currently in favour of Greece, for the long-term benefit of both countries.
- The full potential of our economic cooperation remains untapped, with immense potential for enhanced engagement in the energy, construction, infrastructure and tourism sectors. The Hellenic – Kenyan Chamber of Industry, Commerce, Development, Tourism & Culture, established in 2014, is a platform through which relationships between business entities in Kenya and Greece can be cultivated and elevated further.
- H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term Big Four agenda offers a roadmap the Government’s priorities and a potential reference point to guide future cooperation between Kenya and Greece. The Big Four priority areas as you may be aware are Food Security, Affordable Housing, Manufacturing, and Affordable Healthcare.
- In the manufacturing sector, the Government’s focus is on value addition to enhance our competitiveness and fingered four key subsectors, namely the Blue Economy, Agro-Processing, Leather and Textiles. In Housing, His Excellency the President’s vision is to up-scale homeownership to more than 500,000 Kenyans. On Food Security and Nutrition, the Government is keen to encourage and facilitate large-scale commercial agriculture to diversify food staples through irrigation and other technologies. In relation to Healthcare, the Government is committed to ensuring access to quality and affordable medical cover to all Kenyans by 2022.
- It would be remiss of me not to mention the historic signing last week of the African Continental Free Trade Area treaty by 44 African states. Not only will the AfCTA spur intra-African trade and stimulate competitiveness of African industry, it will also create positive multiplier effects for companies from Greece and elsewhere that choose to invest in Africa due to the liberalization of our markets. In this regard, Kenya’s position in East and Central Africa makes it an ideal launch pad to access the markets of East and Central Africa (EAC) with over 150 million people, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), with over 430 million people, and indeed the wider African Continental Free Trade Area.
- Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, away from the economic sphere, we are happy to note the strong Greek community presence in Kenya, particularly through the Greek Orthodox Church, which under the leadership of His Eminence Metropolitan Makarios has expanded to include 300 parishes actively involved in missionary work throughout Kenya.
- Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now request you to join me in a toast to the warm and cordial relations that exist between Kenya and the Hellenic Republic and to the good health and long life of E. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic.