Nairobi — Kenya and Botswana today signed three key agreements, opening a new chapter of cooperation between the two African countries.
The agreements which cover bilateral trade, air transport and ICT were signed at the end of talks held between Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Mokgweetsi Masisi at State House, Nairobi and attended by Deputy President Dr William Ruto.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is in Kenya on a three-day state visit, was formally received today morning by his host at a colourful ceremony that included a parade of honour and a 21-gun salute, an honour preserved for visiting Heads of State.
The two Presidents followed the elaborate state reception ceremonies with private and bilateral talks before addressing a joint a press conference.
At the press briefing, President Kenyatta said his administration is keen to broaden the two countries' areas of cooperation to include the minerals and mining sector, livestock breeding, trade, tourism promotion, agribusiness and manufacturing.
"I wish to reiterate Kenya's steadfast commitment to continued cooperation with Botswana both at the bilateral and multilateral levels to further deepen our bonds of cooperation and friendship," President Kenyatta said.
He encouraged trade and investments through private public partnerships and joint ventures between business communities of the two countries as a way of strengthening both government-to-government and people-to-people interactions.
"It is therefore, vital that we foster business and investment exchanges," the Kenyan Head of State said.
President Kenyatta noted that the recent launch of the operational phase of AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger was a step in the right direction towards continental trade integration and free movement of people, goods and services.
"I look forward to working closely with Your Excellency and other colleagues to fully operationalize the AfCFTA and accelerate the ongoing reforms of the African Union to make it more responsive to the challenges confronting the continent," the Kenyan leader told his visiting Botswana counterpart.
On his part, President Masisi said his private talks with President Kenyatta and the bilateral meeting between their respective delegations goes to cement further the close historic ties enjoyed by the two countries.
"What we had this morning in our tête-à-tête and the bilateral discussions we held which were very warm, cordial and candid are an example of a deepening relationship," President Masisi said.
The visiting Head of State assured that Botswana will support Kenya's bid for the non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the period 2021 to 2022.
"Kenya asked that we support its candidature for the opportunity to be voted into the security council of the United Nations on non-permanent basis, and we assure that Botswana will vote for Kenya even before Kenya votes for itself," President Masisi assured.
"We in Botswana remain committed to our Pan-Africanist outlook. And so, it should be perceived as automatic that given our shared values over a long period of time, there is no way that we will not share those values when it comes to issues that besiege us such as challenges that we both face and the opportunities that present themselves," he added.
President Masisi commended Kenya for its leading role in promoting regional security and stability, particularly in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
Kenya and Botswana agreed to broaden areas of cooperation that date back to the time of independence by solidifying historic ties, emphasizing the need to engage as African countries before venturing into the world.
"This is an opportunity to revive and refresh our relations. Great opportunities lie in our relationship that our forefathers started," President Masisi said.
President Kenyatta noted that President Masisi's visit to Kenya is a strong reaffirmation of the longstanding and historical friendship that exists between the two countries as well as the shared commitment to promote their socio-economic development.
Of the three agreements signed, one was on the avoidance of double taxation which was signed by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and Internal Affairs and Cooperation Minister Unity Dow for Kenya and Botswana respectively.
The others are a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT).