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President Kaljulaid in Kenya: This is the gateway to Africa for many of our companies

President Kaljulaid in Kenya: This is the gateway to Africa for many of our companies © Raigo Pajula/Office of the President

10.09.2021

On a state visit to Kenya, President Kersti Kaljulaid met with her Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday in Nairobi. One of their main talking points was boosting cooperation between companies from their two countries, but the heads of state also discussed cooperation in the international arena as well as environmental, educational and e-governance issues.

“For many of our companies in the new economy, Kenya is an attractive target market, which is what prompted this visit,” President Kaljulaid explained after the meeting. “But it’s also a potential gateway to Africa, and interest in both Kenya and the wider region has been growing every year. Both Estonia and Kenya are strong supporters of the market economy, and it’s important, first and foremost, that we can work together as countries and create an inspiring environment in which our companies are treated equally and both of our economies can grow.” President Kaljulaid also highlighted the need for Estonia and Kenya to enter into bilateral agreements for the protection of investments and the avoidance of double taxation, as well as the need for trade deals between Kenya and the European Union.

During their discussion, the heads of state made a point of mentioning the cooperation between their countries within international organisations – primarily the UN, where currently both Estonia and Kenya are members of the Security Council.  “Democracy, human rights, equality and a special focus on the situation of women and children in crisis regions around the world are important to both of our countries,” said President Kaljulaid. “Where those issues are concerned, we very much share the same values.” The Estonian head of state also highlighted the role that Kenya plays in the Horn of Africa and in the eastern part of the continent generally. “Events in this region have taken worrying turns in recent years, making the role that Kenya plays in maintaining stability all the more important,” she said. “That’s no easy task, and instant success is almost impossible to achieve. So there’s all the more reason for us to recognise Kenya for the effort it has made so far.”

The Estonian and Kenyan heads of state also agreed on the enormous importance of dealing with climate issues. “We don’t need new promises and further agreements as much as we need to fulfil the obligations we’ve already taken on,” President Kaljulaid remarked. “The green revolution isn’t just some pipedream we can only talk about in theoretical terms – it’s an inevitability, and in many countries quite literally a matter of life and death.  We have to focus on practical steps, not only in reforming the old economy, but also in creating an environment suitable for the new economy. That’s the only way we have any hope of achieving anything.”

The heads of state also discussed the fight against COVID-19 and cooperation between Estonia and Kenya in that regard, opportunities for a digital partnership between their two countries and ways in which they could work together in the fields of medicine and education. Estonia and Kenya have already signed a memorandum of mutual understanding in the digital field, but following the meeting between the heads of state, representatives of ministries from both countries signed further memoranda on the topics of political consultation, the environment and health care.

President Kaljulaid will be on her state visit to Kenya until Saturday. In addition to meeting with President Kenyatta, she also met yesterday with the head of the Delegation of the European Union to Kenya, the Director-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi and the heads of UN organisations in the country. Today the head of state will be meeting with UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and representatives of UNICEF and other UN organisations, taking part in a panel at Strathmore University in Nairobi, officially opening a number of Estonian-Kenyan cooperation projects and speaking at an Estonian-Kenyan business forum.

A state visit is the most ceremonial form of interaction between two nations. During her time in office, President Kaljulaid has made six such visits.