Kenya: Ruto, Abiy Commit to Revitalize Kibaki-Era Special Status Agreement

President William Ruto.
28 February 2024

Nairobi — President William Ruto and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have endorsed the revitalization of the Special Status Agreement of 2012 with an emphasis on trade and investment.

The Special Status Agreement, originally inked between former Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn and the late former President Mwai Kibaki, aimed to bolster economic ties and streamline business operations through reciprocal measures while safeguarding the sovereignty and dignity of each country.

The commitment to rejuvenate this agreement came after high-level bilateral talks between Ruto and Abiy at State House in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Described as conducted in a "friendly and cordial atmosphere," the discussions centered on bilateral, regional, and international issues of mutual interest and concern.

"The two Heads of State reaffirmed their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation in various sectors, including Trade and Investment, Agriculture, Fisheries, Transport, ICT, Tourism, Health, Culture and Forestry in order to meet national aspirations for socioeconomic growth," read a joint communique signed by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and his Ethiopian counterpart Taye Selasie in part.

Acknowledging the deep historical bonds between their nations, Kenya and Ethiopia pledged to collaborate towards realizing the goals outlined in the African Union's Agenda 2063.

They emphasized the importance of promoting people-to-people interactions and facilitating increased trade flows between the two states.

eTA fee waiver

Two two country's highlighted Kenya's decision to waive the USD30 fee for Ethiopian citizens seeking Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter the country as a significant step to bolster trade relations.

"For this reason, and in recognition of long-standing historical understandings, Kenya confirmed that Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) shall be issued gratis to Ethiopian citizens," the communique stated.

The 36th Session of the High Level Joint Ministerial Commission, which took place from 19th to 21st February 2024 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, preceded Abiy's State Visit.

During the Commission, the two countries deliberated on mutual interests and reviewed the status of various cooperation frameworks.

The JMC saw the signing of seven Memoranda of Understanding committing the two countries to cooperate in cultural development, tourism, and wildlife sector, blue economy, reformatory services, petroleum and energy development, and capacity building in the public sector.

Economic cooperation emerged as a priority, given the substantial potential for collaboration between the neighboring nations.

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