Exciting time has come for Kenya and Ethiopia to boost their historic ties by strengthening trade and investment between them, says Kenyan Ambassador to Ethiopia. A high level Kenyan delegation led by President Uhuru Kenyata is expected to visit Addis Ababa tomorrow and Saturday with 100 heads of major Kenyan companies.
“We are delight that this is happenings that we have been able to facilitate. We know that this is a really a further step to the great cordial relationship that our two countries have had,” said Ambassador Catherine Muigai Mwangishe, explaining the mission of the delifgation.
The visit of high level business delegation to Ethiopia is a result of the reformist prime Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, who announced plan to open the country for business and facilitate conditions for the private sector, according to Ambassador Catherine MuigaiMwangi. “That has given the confidence to the Kenyan business people that Ethiopia is now open for business,” she said, indicating it is also a good opportunity for Ethiopian businesses to meet with Kenyan business and see the opportunities Kenya is offering.
In the coming two days, representing the business communities, the chambers of the two countries are expected to hold meeting and sign partnership agreements, according to the Ambassador.
She stated that the conversation to improve investment and trade between the two countries by harmonizing policy and regulations has been going on for long time.“I don’t think of any Kenyan businesses setup here,” she said, indicating the need for harmonizing policies that will allow the private sector of both countries to freely do business.
She noted that to address such issues, the delegation led by President Uhuru, includes policy makers and regulatory officials from different regulator bodies such as, the central bank of Kenya and ministry of trade, among others.
During their meeting with their counterpart Ethiopian officials they will be looking at policy harmonization of policies and legislations. “If the policy and regulatory framework is not in place, then it becomes impossible to trade between the two countries,” she said, indicating that annual trade volume between the two neighbors is $8 million.
“Especially because of the commitment of the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia Dr. Abiy Ahmed to ensure this [policy and regulatory framework] is in place, we hope this is going to be finalized to facilitate trade and investment between the two countries…Kenyans and Ethiopians are not strangers. They know each other and interacted for so many years. This is an exciting time for both our countries,” said Ambassador Catherine MuigaiMwangi, indicating that private sector of the two countries have been waiting for this moment. “I am sure by next year, we will not be talking about policy and regulatory issue,” she said.
The delegation involves businesses engaged in tourism, agriculture, telecom ad financial sectors. Kenyan businesses are also interested to invest I the leather sector of Ethiopia, according to the Ambassador. Ethiopia and Kenya are being been connected by modern highway and electricity.
Kenyan companies, which are used to liberal market, have not been able to invest in a highly controlled Ethiopian market mainly dues to issues related to profit repatriation, according to the latest report of NewBusinessEthiopia.com, which quoted a UN trade agency official.