Kenya: Swiss President Alain Berset on State Visit to Kenya

Switzerland President Alain Berset (standing left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta witness the signing of an agreement for return of stolen assets by Swiss Ambassador to Kenya Ralf Henker (left) and Attorney-General Justice Paul Kihara at State House on July 9, 2018.

Switzerland President Alain Berset on Sunday starts an official three-day state visit to Kenya that will culminate in a formal welcome at State House Nairobi mid-morning on Monday.

The visit aims to broaden bilateral relations between Switzerland and Kenya. Kenya is one of Switzerland's five most important trading partners in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Berset will hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday to discuss economic and political relations.

Cooperation in the fight against corruption and discussions on the health sector will also be on the agenda.

Sources indicated that Mr Kenyatta will use the visit to broaden his anti-corruption agenda. Swiss banks have previously been named as the channels where stolen money from Africa is stashed.

The Kroll report commissioned by Narc government mentioned Switzerland as one of the countries that Moi regime cronies stashed their ill-gotten wealth.

President Berset was elected to the post in December for a one-year non-renewable term.

RENEWED RELATIONS

The visit comes after renewed relations between Kenya and Switzerland, with Bern opening its new Embassy building in Gigiri two years ago.

President Kenyatta has singled out universal healthcare, affordable housing, manufacturing and food security -- legacy-driven targets he has singled out as the Big Four.

President Berset's visit will seek to strengthen ties in the development of Africa's pharmaceutical industry in areas of generic medicine, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication and medical devices.

Norvatis, a Swiss healthcare company, is a key partner in the industry. Kenya was the first country to launch its Norvatis Access Programme in 2015, which is being implemented through Kenya Medical Supplies Agency and select local health institutions.

Hoestch, another Swiss company, was also instrumental in the country's bid for universal health coverage as a key pharmaceutical distributor.

The Swiss government will also discuss its contribution in the water and livestock sectors in arid and semi-arid areas.

POLITICAL SITUATION

Kenyatta and Berset will also discuss the political situation in Eastern Africa and international cooperation between Switzerland and Kenya.

On Tuesday, Berset will visit the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Kenya has about 500,000 refugees, most of them from Somalia, South Sudan and the DRC.

Swiss Humanitarian Aid is active on Kenyan territory. Berset will also hold a meeting with Chief Justice David Maraga.

Meetings are also planned with representatives from the Kenyan civil society, members of the arts scene and the Swiss community.

Close ties between Switzerland and Kenya go back to the dawn of Kenya's independence.

The iconic Kenya Utalii College set up in the 1970s is the best-known Kenya-Switzerland economic cooperation project. By training the first generation of indigenous Kenyan hotel managers, it helped lay the foundation for Kenya's tourism sector.

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