Ethiopia, Kenya Deepen Business Ties

visit geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>approved sans-serif;”>Here is Kenyatta’s full speech:

Your Excellency

Captains of Industry

Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of my delegation, let me thank you for the invitation to address this Business Forum.

Allow me also to convey to His Excellency the Prime Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, and to the people of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the warmest fraternal greetings from the people of Kenya.


The cordial relations between Kenya and Ethiopia, anchored in old economic, cultural and historical ties, are a matter of pride for both our peoples.

This opportunity to engage with Ethiopian private-sector leaders and business executives promises to deepen those ties.

It is a central aim of our visit to lay the foundation for robust economic and commercial relations between our two peoples.

While our countries already trade very extensively, there remains room for the expansion of mutual business and investment opportunities.

That is why I am pleased not only to speak to players in commerce and business, but to also listen to their proposals.

I have observed with appreciation the results of the wide economic and social and reforms undertaken by the Government of Ethiopia in recent years. Chief among them has been the new appreciation of the private sector’s critical role.

As in my country, your private sector has grown into an important partner in the development and implementation of policies and programs for prosperity; close partnerships between government and business have expanded the productive capacity of our economies.

Ethiopia is today a major regional trading partner with COMESA. Kenya, on the other hand, has been an energetic member of the same association.

We welcome, therefore, the pronouncement made at the most recent COMESA Summit that Ethiopia will join the COMESA free trade area by December 2014.

As political leaders, we fully appreciate the private sector’s support of regional integration; we are particularly grateful for the diligence with which the business community has aided the tripartite trade negotiations between the East African Community, the Southern African Development Community and COMESA.

Our goal is to hasten the advent of a more effective regulatory regime, and the growth in trade we can expect thereafter.

It is with pleasure I note that the volume of trade between Kenya and Ethiopia has grown steadily over the years.

In 2012, Kenya’s exports to Ethiopia stood at $53.2 million while imports from Ethiopia were worth $4.1 million.

It is therefore Kenya’s strong desire to implement the Special Status Agreement concluded in November 2012.

Apart from providing a strong foundation for sustaining the special relationship between Kenya and Ethiopia, the Special Status Agreement provides a framework for engagement with bilateral investors, particularly in the development of strategic infrastructure and in aligning this to both countries’ development agenda.

I, therefore, urge Kenyan and Ethiopian business membership organisations to begin consultations with their counterparts.

The quicker they identify hindrances to the smooth flow of investment between the countries, the quicker both governments will be able to remove them.

We both have young, vibrant populations, at similar levels of development.

Most importantly, we share the spirit of African solidarity and a common land border.

With substantial reserves of natural resources also in consideration, it is clear that the potential for a win-win collaboration between our two countries is almost limitless.

As you are aware, two years ago my country, Ethiopia and South Sudan signed an agreement for a mega project to open up the transport corridor from Lamu to Addis Ababa and Juba in South Sudan.

Once complete, LAPSSET, as it is more conveniently called, will enable Ethiopia to import and export goods via Lamu Port at competitive rates.

Let me hasten to add that Lamu is strategic both politically and economically for our region; indeed, it presents a most logical entry to both East and Central Africa.

I spoke of our young populations. That age structure presents us the challenge of finding dignified work for our young people; a challenge made all the steeper by global economic difficulties.

The burden falls as heavily on private sector leaders as it does on governments: it is your duty to work as closely as you can with us to employ our youth, and secure new markets for your goods and services.

I can disclose that Kenya stands ready to begin consultations for the regulations and guidelines that would allow Ethiopian companies to raise investment capital and trade at our Nairobi Securities Exchange.

More importantly, we are enthused by the possibilities for joint ventures between our businesses, and particularly by the potential for cross-listing on regional bourses.

If I may, let me take this opportunity to share with you Kenya’s own experiences in business regulation and corporate governance.

The Government of Kenya continues to regard the private sector as a key centre of economic and social development.

We have built regulatory capacity through the establishment of statutory bodies with sufficient legal powers to ensure and enforce fair trade and pricing practices.

Equally, the Government has divested itself of its majority shareholding in state commercial companies through the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

The divestiture programme bore fruit in improved corporate governance, as vital business decision-making and management instruments were left to the private sector.

Supported by a strong monetary and fiscal policy framework, the private sector in Kenya is now one of the fastest growing in Africa.

This is the signpost that we wish to plant here today. In the hope that our experience would inspire your practice, I have with me in my delegation experienced private sector executives who will be pleased to share their know-how.

In the area of Information Communication and Technology (ICT), I bring news of Kenya’s advances in the application and development of ICT based products and services, which have hugely improved the lives of millions of Kenyans.

One such product is our mobile money transfer service, M-PESA, and the mobile bank account service, M-SHWARI. Kenya would be happy to share policy and technical expertise in similar ventures.

Turning to the capacity of developing countries to mobilise development resources from international development partners, it is perfectly clear that traditional sources are no longer as promising as they once were, for a variety of reasons.

We must now embrace alternative means of financing the vital development projects in our priority sectors.

It is time, in fact, to deepen our public-private partnerships and to make the private sector’s efficiencies our own. The prizes are growth economies, new jobs, and better public services.

As we address the challenges associated with our relatively high costs of production, particularly in energy, let me ask the private sector and business associations in our two countries to join their Governments in containing harmful and undesirable business engagements, especially those involving contraband goods and banned products.

Your cooperation is to your advantage: you will protect the jobs that ultimately underpin your markets, and investments.

Let me close by emphasising that we value the private sector, as a key partner in the development of our economies, and with them our people’s prospects.

Precisely because we value your work, we would be happy to hear from you.

Let us know how we can fashion stronger links within the multilateral trading system that now prevails.

We are happy to facilitate trade enquiries, product-promotion fairs and investment fora.

Members of my delegation would be delighted to answer questions or clarify any issues that may arise.

And the Kenyan Embassy in Ethiopia will be only too happy to follow up the proposals and inquiries initiated at this forum and report on their progress.

I thank you. God Bless you.

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