KEPSA, both the Government of Kenya and Djibouti and partners organized Kenya-Djibouti Business Forum that was held on 9th May 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi. The forum was part of a three-day visit by the President of the Republic of Djibouti H.E Ismail Omar Guelleh who held bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta on trade, investment and security in the region.
The meeting, which drew members from the Kenya and Djibouti business community, sought to promote private sector collaboration that will foster joint business ventures and eventually establish closer trade and investment links that will be mutually beneficial to both countries.
Also in attendance was; KEPSA Chairman Mr. Nicholas Nesbitt, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Amb. Monica Juma and Djibouti Minister for Investment Ali Guelleh Aboubaker.
Mr. Nesbitt, in his welcome remarks, highlighted the common features shared by both Kenya and Djibouti in particular their strategic geographic locations that make them sea gateways for the Eastern Africa Region which opens up opportunities in the logistics and maritime industry. He noted the two countries were the only African contact points to be identified for the One Road One Belt Initiative by the Chinese government. “With large portfolio investment planned by China for Africa, both Kenya and Djibouti stand to benefit a lot as the transport and business hubs for the entire continent.” Mr. Nesbitt further emphasized that “To tap into these opportunities and attract more investment (both foreign and domestic), we must work to ensure our business environment remains conducive for businesses”. He urged Djibouti businesses to take advantage of Kenya’s market and encouraged the Djibouti government and the private sector to work closely with the Kenyan government and KEPSA to provide trade and investment information, opportunities and procedures for interested investors, and to also facilitate investments between the two countries.
Amb. Monica Juma, in her speech during the meeting, highlighted Djibouti’s strategic location that made it an ideal investment hub and encouraged the Kenyan business sector to take advantage of the available opportunities there. She further reiterated the need for Kenyan investors to establish companies in Djibouti to broaden their markets.
Mr. Aboubaker, in his speech, also expressed support for intra-Africa trade that would reduce Africa’s over reliance on overseas goods that can be produced easily in the continent.
Kenya and Djibouti governments signed four MoU’s aimed at promoting trade and deepening bilateral links. The agreements, which were signed at State House Nairobi, included: Trade Agreement; MoU on Bilateral Cooperation in the Livestock sector; Agreement on Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of investments; and an agreement on visa exemption for diplomatic passport holders. The trade agreement will act as a facilitation mechanism to expand business between the two countries.