Two full military guards of honour, a 21-gun salute, and cultural dancers greeted President Uhuru Kenyatta on his first state visit to Mozambique, during which he and host President Filipe Nyusi agreed to deepen trade and political ties to grow both countries.
After the routine presentation of a bouquet of flowers at both the airport and his hotel, President Kenyatta was driven to the Presidential complex in Maputo, where formal reception ceremonies, tête-à-tête with President Nyusi, bilateral talks accompanied by his ministerial delegation, were held.
After the talks, the leaders witnessed the signing of two broad agreements covering political and economic cooperation – which will be the heart of closer cooperation between the southern African Portuguese-speaking country and the east African economic giant.
President Kenyatta sees the two agreements as the kick-start of relations that would link the Swahili Coast from Maputo to Lamu.
Kenya and Mozambique resolved to broaden their cooperation areas of mutual interest including the minerals and mining sector, livestock breeding, trade, tourism promotion, agri-business, manufacturing and value addition, and the Blue economy sector.
The Kenyan delegation at the bilateral talks included Cabinet Secretaries Amb. Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs and International Trade), Adan Mohamed (Industrialization and Enterprise Development) and Charles Keter (Energy), and Transport and Infrastructure Development Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure.
President Kenyatta specifically pointed out that there was immense potential for collaboration in the area of the Blue Economy by virtue of the two countries’ long coastlines.
“Besides the exploitation of marine resources, cooperation in this sector, could also entail modernization of our sister ports; Beira and Mombasa, to ensure a sustained competitive edge in terms of efficiency,” President Kenyatta said.
He added: “This will spur trade and distribution of products not only between our countries but to our respective sub-region as well.”
The Kenyan Head of State said his Administration will also be delighted to partner with Mozambique in the implementation of the Big Four economic transformational agenda which focuses on food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare for all.
“I believe that these key pillars are not unique to Kenya’s but cut across our countries as foundations upon which sustainable development can be attained. This commonality gives us a sound platform for accelerated collaboration,” President Kenyatta said.
Appreciating Mozambique’s milestone achievements in the development of the mineral and mining industry, President Kenyatta said he was keen to collaborate with Mozambique with a view to revamping the mining sector which has huge potential to transform Kenya’s economy.
“It is indeed commendable that Mozambique’s mining sector contributes 14 per cent to the country’s GDP, compared to Kenya’s 0.8 per cent,” President Kenyatta said.
The Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) agreement between the two countries signed in 1991 received a shot in the arm at the bilateral meeting in Maputo, when President Kenyatta and President Nyusi directed their respective Foreign Affairs Ministries to work expeditiously to convene the next session of JCC and input robust monitoring and implementation mechanisms.
“This will create the necessary momentum in our bilateral engagements to accelerate growth and progress in actualization of the objectives that we set out to achieve in our pursuit to deeper cooperation,” President Kenyatta said.
Cooperation between the two countries has so far registered progress in the Air Transport Sector where the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) was established in 2012 leading to direct flights between Kenya and Mozambique.
President Kenyatta said the direct flights by Mozambique Airlines and Kenya Airways have played a significant role in enhancing bilateral trade relations between the two countries.
“This is well demonstrated by the steady growth in our bilateral trade over the last six years. I also recognize the fact that our two countries signed a memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tourism Matters in 2010, here in Mozambique,” President Kenyatta said.
Recognizing the significant role played by the private sector in trade and investment as engines of development, President Kenyatta and his host expressed the need to foster business and investment exchanges between the business communities of the two countries.
“The initiative will encourage, trade and investments through private partnership joint ventures between business communities, thereby strengthening both Government to Government and people to people relations,” President Kenyatta said.
To realize the goal of increased investments exchanges, the two leaders underscored the need to create a level playing ground and an environment that would make business and investments between the two countries to flourish.
They encouraged establishment of appropriate frameworks such as Bilateral Trade Agreement and Avoidance of Double taxation agreement to guide the conduct of business and investments in Kenya and Mozambique.
President Kenyatta said his visit to Mozambique provided a unique opportunity to reaffirm the close ties between the two countries that are founded on similar historical experiences, a common heritage and shared values.
“It also avails us an occasion to review progress made in various areas of cooperation, and, chart the way forward on broadening and consolidating our partnership, for the prosperity of our peoples,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta and his host President Nyusi were later on Thursday due to co-chair a Kenya-Mozambique business forum.