NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3 – The United Kingdom has renewed its commitment to stronger ties with Kenya pledging to emphasise on cooperation as opposed to aid.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who has been on a five-day tour of Africa told the press during a joint briefing with his Kenyan counterpart Monica Juma on Friday the United Kingdom was committed to favourable trading relations with Kenya even after Britain leaves the European Union.
The EU and UK have agreed on a delayed Brexit, Britain postponing its scheduled departure from the union twice – on March 29 and April 12.
“I’m pleased to say that we didn’t spend a very long time on Brexit and that’s a nice change but if we’d spend longer I’d have reassured that our trade with Kenya is very important as it is with South Africa and all other countries in the continent,” he said.
“We’re absolutely committed and confident that we’ll be able to maintain the same very favourable trading relationship that we currently have,” Hunt who has since visited Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, added.
He dismissed reports that his visit was an attempt to counter-check China’s growing influence in Africa saying Beijing’s contribution to the continent’s development cannot be gainsaid.
“I don’t see this visit as catch-up with China. I think China is making a very important contribution to Africa’s development and you can see that in Kenya with the new railway to Mombasa,” the Foreign Secretary noted.
Hunt however said the United Kingdom was keen on entrenching democracy in Africa which he said is critical for the continent’s stability.
He affirmed the UK’s commitment to democratic institutions which “in the end are the best way for stability.”
“If you can have a system where there’s orderly transition of power when it is time for leaders to step down then that’s one of the best possible things for businesses looking for stability over many years,”
CS Juma welcomed UK’s pledge for cooperation on trade and security saying Kenya renewed growth and transformation continued to strengthen her position as the preferred hub for foreign investors.
She cited the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) by African Head of States in March 2018 as a major boost to ease of trading in the continent.
“I hope that our engagement at the Economic Development Forum will give impetus for companies from the two countries to create business to business relations and utilize opportunities that we have created especially over 182 flagship projects under the Big 4 priority sectors,” CS Juma said.
Juma had during talks with Hunt welcomed the UK’s commitment to continued duty-free quota-free market access to Britain post-Brexit.
The two diplomats also discussed ongoing peace and security initiatives in South Sudan and Somalia, Hunt describing Kenya’s mission in the Horn of Africa as vital to global peace.
The Foreign Secretary was scheduled to attend the Economic and Trade Forum later on Friday where business executives were expected to explore avenues of trading in Kenya and the UK.
Hunt’s visit in Ghana culminated into the signing of a £30 million deal aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity in the western African nation.
Ghanaian and Nigerian companies signed new business deals worth £82 million.
“I’m delighted to be in Ghana today to announce almost £82m worth of new British business deals here and in Nigeria. The economic opportunities we see right now in Africa are tremendous, with enormous potential to grow. We must not see African nations as recipients of our charity, but rather as partners and destinations for our investment and trade,” he said on Tuesday while emphasizing on the need for a shift from aid-reliance to partnerships.