Rome — Italy has pledged to help Kenya build capacity necessary to aid its development agenda.
Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said the rich experience Italy has in roads, energy, water and technical training is worth being replicated in Kenya "as it prepares for an economic take-off".
Di Maio spoke on Monday in his office in Rome when he held bilateral talks with Deputy President William Ruto.
"We are ready to support initiatives that would result to more trade between Kenya and Italy. We are currently reorienting our trainings to be in harmony with industry demands. This calls for us to forge partnerships," said the Deputy Prime Minister.
He said Italy was keen at giving utmost attention to ongoing and new projects that would impact positively on the lives of Kenyans, adding that President Sergio Mattarella would be visiting Kenya in February 2019 to further relations.
Ruto lauded the strong, progressive and cordial ties between Kenya and Italy.
He said there was need for the two countries to do more business with each other, observing that the balance of trade was still skewed.
"We would want to see how we can work together, explore more areas to bring that balance of trade at almost the same level," said Ruto.
The Deputy President asked Italy to buy more products from Kenya, particularly coffee, leather and other agricultural products.
"More than 60 per cent of Kenya's coffee are sold to Europe. This is premium coffee that Italy needs to purchase directly from Kenya," said Ruto.
He acknowledged the role of Italian development agencies in Kenya in areas of water, sanitation and agriculture.
While commending Italy for its role making Africa stable, the Deputy President expressed his sympathies following the kidnapping of Silvia Romano, an Italian volunteer aid worker, in Malindi in November.
"Sylvia loved Kenya. That is why she came to support destitute children, but unfortunately became a victim of criminals. We are pursuing those criminals and I am glad Italy sent experts to work with our security," said Ruto.
Ruto was accompanied by Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, Governors Ali Roba (Mandera), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Joyce Laboso (Bomet) and Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri).