Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday set off to Abuja, Nigeria for a State visit.
The visit follows a similar trip made by Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and First Lady Patience Jonathan in September 2013, and is expected to enhance bilateral and trade ties between Kenya and Nigeria. It is set to strengthen previous agreements and business interactions between the two countries.
During his State visit to Kenya last year, President Jonathan was accompanied by among others, a leading Nigerian businessman, Aliko Dangote, Founder and Chief Executive of the Dangote Group, who expressed interest in investing in the mining industry in Kenya.
Over 100 Kenyan business people - who are paying for their own travel expenses - were accompanying President Kenyatta on his visit to Abuja. They are to meet with their Nigerian counterparts and discuss areas of co-operation.
A Joint Business Council (JBC) comprising of ten members per country has been established to coordinate interaction between the business communities of the two countries. The JBC will be officially launched during the Kenya - Nigeria business forum scheduled for May 5 in Abuja. A number of key agreements and Memoranda of Understanding that will entrench cooperation between the two countries will also be signed during the President's visit.
The following Bilateral Agreements/Memoranda of Understanding between Kenya and Nigeria are likely to be signed:
- An agreement on the Establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Kenya and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- A protocol on consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- A memorandum of understanding on mutual cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya, and the Foreign Service Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- An agreement on Visa Exemption for holders of diplomatic passports.
- An MoU on the conclusion of Agreements on Double Taxation and Promotion & Protection Investments (IPPA).
- An MoU on Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Co-operation.
- An MoU on Tourism Co-operation.
- An MoU on Twinning of Cities and Towns.
- An MoU on Trade and Investment Co-operation.
- An MoU on Oil & Gas Co-operation.
- A bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA).
Currently, the volume of trade between the two countries is relatively low, but the growing enthusiasm of the business communities of both countries is set to significantly change that situation. A recently signed MoU on Trade and Investment between Kenya and Nigeria enables business people to explore more areas of investment for the mutual benefit of the peoples of both nations. Discussions are also on-going to upgrade the MoU into a Bilateral Trade Agreement.
Nigeria is an economic powerhouse in West Africa while Kenya boasts the same status in the East African region. Therefore, the partnership and cooperation the two countries have embarked on stands to significantly benefit the people of the two countries and their regions. Equally important is the fact that with a population of over 170 million people, Nigeria is a large potential market for Kenyan products.
The visit will also see President Kenyatta attend the World Economic Forum on Africa that will be held in Abuja from 7th to 9th May. The forum whose theme is "Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs" will focus on the economic challenges facing the continent and recommend solutions.
At the forum, President Kenyatta will push for the African agenda on infrastructure in terms of mobilizing resources, and broadening roads and railways to improve the continent's interconnectivity. As Chairman of the East African Community, the President was given the mandate to champion infrastructure investment in the region.
Apart from deepening trade and economic ties, President Kenyatta's visit to Nigeria also underscores Kenya's foreign policy of promoting relations between African countries.
The President will be accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Amb. Amina Mohamed of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; Felix Koskei of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries; Davis Chirchir of Energy and Petroleum; Phyllis Kandie of East African Affairs, Commerce and Industry and Michael Kamau of Transport and Infrastructure.