Mauritius wishes to tap the potentials offered in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) being set up in Kenya and equally collaborate with Kenya on issues pertaining to climate change and regional security, said the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth.
The Prime Minister was speaking during a banquet given, yesterday, at Le Meridien Hotel, in Pointe aux Piments, in honour of the President of the Republic of Kenya, Mr Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta who is on a four-day State visit to Mauritius.
The signature of the agreement on SEZs, he stressed, should spur the establishment of a conducive framework for developing centres of globally competitive production in Kenya. This would meet the objective of expanding the manufacturing sector and create employment opportunities, he said. Nevertheless, he added, investments can only grow if there is a favourable framework. In such a context, the Mauritius-Kenya Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and the Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (IPPA) which our two countries have signed will be crucial mechanisms in shaping investments.
As regards maritime connectivity, he stressed on the need for close collaboration between the two countries to fight all forms of illegal traffic whether drugs, fisheries or human trafficking in the Indian Ocean.
Speaking about climate change, the Prime Minister pointed out that both Mauritius and Kenya are concerned about the rise and increased ferocity of natural disasters. Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, he indicated, have borne the severe brunt of Cyclone Idai in the past weeks. Government, he underlined, shares the vision, expressed during the One Planet Summit, of protecting our forests and growing more trees.
In a bid to minimise carbon footprint, Government, he said, seeks to reach a target of 35 % of renewable energy by 2025 through the Home Solar Project. The objective is to have at least eleven functional solar farms, he added. The Prime Minister, thus called on Kenya's support to share the best practices to fight climate change and together seek the cooperation of more advanced countries to develop triangular projects aimed at building resilience.
According to Prime Minister Jugnauth, the visit of Mr Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, is an opportune time for the two countries to further consolidate economic and bilateral relations and discuss new avenues of cooperation. The opening of new avenues will consequently contribute to the economy of the country as well as create jobs, he added. He further pointed out that the bilateral relationship is sustained by a common interest of entrenching the rule of law and a deep desire to transform the two countries into engines of growth in Africa. It is also premised on the common will of the two countries to evolve rule based systems at national and international levels, and fight corruption, he indicated.
The Prime Minister underlined that Kenya's Big 4 development agenda is in many ways similar to the development goals being pursued by the government in order to achieve economic growth, shared prosperity and improved quality of life for Mauritians. The Big 4 agenda focuses on innovation, accelerating growth of the service sector, creating affordable housing and addressing infrastructural deficits, he said.
Prime Minister Jugnauth expressed gratitude to the President of Kenya for his commitment to the cause of decolonisation and freedom. Mauritius, he said, can count on Kenya's continued support to assist our country in its efforts to ensure the decolonisation of the Chagos Archipelago given that the the International Court of Justice chair ruling has been taken forward at the level of the United Nations. He also responded favourably to the invitation from the President of Kenya to visit his country.
For his part the President of the Republic of Kenya, Mr Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, said that his visit to Mauritius is an excellent opportunity for Mauritius and Kenya to expand the scope of the bilateral relations with a view to enhance the cordial relation that exist between the two countries. He is optimistic that both countries will extend their arenas of work and be capable to work in diverse fields of mutual interest namely trade and investment, financial services, agriculture, transport, education, tourism, and research amongst others, he said.
He also welcomed Mauritian investors to explore the numerous trade and investment opportunities in Kenya and to take advantage of his 2017 directive which enables all Africans to receive visas upon arrival in Kenya. Under the fifth schedule of the Kenya citizenship and immigration regulations 2012, Mauritius falls under category one of the Kenya visa regulations of countries whose nationals do not require visa to enter Kenya, he said.
As regards trade, President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta highlighted that both countries' port cities form an integral part of the trade relations. Mauritius and Kenya should, therefore, join forces and strengthen links between the two ports so as to facilitate trade and cultural interconnectivity among its people, he said.