Nairobi — Kenya stands to benefit from Brazilian expertise in sugar and ethanol production following bilateral agreements signed in Nairobi last week.
Under the Kenya-Brazil Joint Commission for Cooperation founded in 2005, the two parties agreed to cooperate in enhancing their capacities in the production of sugar and ethanol from sugar cane.
Kenya stands to gain from Brazil, as the South American country has more than tripled its yields of sugar cane, which is that country's main source of ethanol.
Brazil's 30-year-old ethanol fuel programme uses modern equipment and cheap sugar cane as feedstock; the residual cane-waste (bagasse) is used to process heat and power, which results in a competitive price and in a high energy balance (output energy/input energy).
Brazil is the world's second largest producer of ethanol and the world's largest exporter, and it is considered to have the world's first sustainable biofuels economy and is the biofuel industry leader.
Brazil and the United States lead the industrial world in global ethanol production, accounting for 70 per cent of the world's output and nearly 90 per cent of ethanol used for fuel.
Kenya and Brazil also agreed to promote the teaching of Kiswahili and Portuguese. Direct flights may also be established between both countries.
Speaking at the opening of the joint commission's meeting in Nairobi, Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang'ula appealed to Brazil to have its national airline Varig resume flights to Kenya.
The Brazilian delegation was led by Roberto Jaguaribe. The two parties agreed to implement the "Second Half Programme", which will be a pilot project targeting an initial 200 beneficiaries among them children, adolescents and young adults.
The programme aims at supporting the social development of low-income earners through sports, with special attention to football.
Under the programme, the Brazilian Sport ministry will provide technical assistance to promote sporting activities and management of stadiums.
At the conclusion of the bilateral consultations, the two countries signed four technical cooperation agreements on the implementation of various projects. The projects are aimed at strengthening the HIV/Aids response in Kenya, and supporting malaria prevention and control.
Brazil will also help in strengthening the Kenya Wildlife Service, Nairobi City Council's fire brigade and the Kenya Airports Authority's Fire and Rescue services.
Brazil's present trade balance with Kenya does not exceed $22 million (Sh1.5 billion). In 2004, Brazil imported only $11,000 (Sh754,600) in merchandise from Kenya.
Most of the goods were items of decoration. By getting closer to Kenya, Brazil intends to increase its trade relations with East Africa, a bloc led by Kenya.
Mr Jaguaribe said partnerships among developing countries would bring order and stability to the world.
"Unlike the developed countries, Brazil being a developing country understands the problems of developing countries," he said. Brazil has been strengthening its ties with Africa during the administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
As a committed socialist, President Lula believes that Brazil should forge closer economic and political relations with developing countries.
After coming to power in 2002, Lula made his first trip to Africa in November 2003. He visited South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe.
Shortly afterwards he visited Libya and Egypt, and Brazil opened new embassies in Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Kinshasa and Yaounde.
Mr Jaguaribe said that by the end of the year the number of Brazil's embassies in Africa will be 34, up from the current 17, while the number of African embassies in Brasilia will increase from 15 to 30.
He said the new focus on Africa was because Brazil considers itself an African country. According to the latest census figures, the country's population has increased tenfold in the last century to 175 million. About 122.5 million of the people are of African heritage.
"Looking at the number of African descendents in Brazil, Brazil is the second biggest African country after Nigeria [Africa's most populous]," Mr Jaguaribe said. According to the Word Bank estimate for 2000, Nigeria's population is 126.9 million.
"Our co-operation with Africa was already important, but what is new is our increased co-operation with non-Lusophone [Portuguese-speaking] African countries," said Lauro Barbosa da Silva Moreira, the director of the Brazilian Agency of Cooperation. "That has been increasing since Lula became president."