Following up on H.E Ambassador Mohamed Gello’s interview, we bring you a synopsis of how Kenya has engaged the UAE and what opportunities await UAE businesses.
Political and Diplomatic Relations
Kenya opened a Diplomatic Mission at Ambassadorial level in Abu Dhabi in 1982 while the UAE Embassy in Nairobi opened this year. United Arab Emirates is among Kenya’s top five major trading partners with both countries encouraging intermittent interaction between the respective Chambers of Commerce, stakeholder meetings and participation in exhibitions. the first Kenya UAE Joint Commission for Cooperation was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2010 for broadening and strengthening Bi lateral ties as given impetus by the recently signed Bi Lateral agreement on avoidance of double taxation. The Consulate pf Kenya further encourages regular diplomatic consultations on Consular matters, trade and investment, tourism development and joint measures in the fight against piracy in the Indian ocean and humanitarian assistance.
The opening of the Consulate General of Kenya in Dubai in October 2010 was a milestone in cementing these relations as evidenced when the Kenyan President accompanied by five Cabinet Ministers and the acting Consul General visited and inaugurated the Consulate on 21st November, 2011 In his endeavor to extend government services closer to Kenyans who mostly reside in Dubai, Sharjah and neighboring Emirates as well as support to the Embassy.
High level visits
As a means to consolidating and expanding good relations between the two countries, Kenya encourages the exchange of high level visits as evidenced by state level visits by Retired President Danial Arap Moi who visited the UAE in 1980 while the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former President of the UAE visited Kenya in 1984. H.E. Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya paid an official visit in November, 2011, and both Ministers for Foreign Affairs visited Kenya and UAE respectively in 2009 to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
This is in addition to H.R.H. Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, First Lady of Dubai, making a one-day visit to Kenya in 2010 and several symposia and stakeholder meetings taking place either way.
Trade and development
Kenya remains an attractive investment destination for UAE while the UAE hosts an estimated 40,000 Kenyan population living and working mostly in the professional sector, hotel, security and logistics.
Kenya’s foreign policy seeks to deepen cooperation with the UAE in the expansion of markets, foreign direct investment, development assistance, humanitarian assistance, renewable energy (support to IRENA) and strengthen joint commission of cooperation
Kenya’s export commodities to UAE include tea, fruits, nuts, fish, coffee and vegetables while UAE exports to Kenya include petroleum, oils, automated data machines and magnetic or optical readers.
The Kenya Tourism Board in conjunction with the Consulate organised a one day road show focusing on Kenya as a preferred tourist destination and promotion of UAE as a target market and hitherto encouraged players in the industry to build new business relationships. Ten professionals from the UAE market were selected for a familiarisation tour in Kenya
The Consulates has initiated the registration of a Kenyan Business Council in the UAE to harness the potential in export and re export business flourishing between the two countries and enhance interaction with the various Chambers of Commerce.
In order to foster hegemony and relief to Kenyans, the Consulate propagated for a body representative of the Diaspora and was in the fore front supporting the initiative the registration of the Kenya Welfare Association (KEWA)
In commemoration of the Kenyan National day on 12th December, 2012, the Consulate is further planning to host a Kenyan food and cuisine day on the 13th, and a Diaspora day coinciding with the launch of KEWA on the 14th of December, 2012.
The government of Kenya has integrated Diaspora remittances in its economic planning in cognizance that these remittances hit 6.4 billion Kenya shillings in 2009 with Kenyans in UAE contributing substantially. It is against this backdrop that the consulate has brought together Kenya businesspeople, professionals and entrepreneurs to establish the Kenyan Business Council whose request for registration has been submitted to the relevant authorities to;
(a) Disseminate information to the Diaspora on investment opportunities in Kenya
(b) Build investor confidence in the Kenyan market and other emerging frontiers in Africa
(c) Address challenges facing Kenyan Diaspora while securing investment back home
(d) Create inter linkages with the Chambers of Commerce in UAE
(e) Address challenges faced by new Kenyan investors in the UAE and Middle East markets
(f) Level the playing field by developing a one stop information sharing centre for those interested in investing in either country
The Consulate takes cognizance that the UAE has endeavored to protect the rights of foreign workers through elaborate federal labour laws and bilateral work agreements, an important element since the number of Kenyans working in UAE has been growing steadily and if the trend continues, we will likely be a major force in the UAE employment market. Towards this end, we encourage finalisation of the ongoing negotiations on a labour and immigration protocol which both sides have agreed to in principal.
Development and humanitarian assistance
The Consulate with assistance from Sharjah Charity organized a fundraising to assist people who were facing food shortages due to the ravages of drought in the northern part of the country. UAE government has equally supported humanitarian and development projects in Kenya through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Economic Development (ADFED), the UAE Red Crescent Society and the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable Foundation. The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation Constructed the Sheikh Zayed Children’s Orphanage and Sheikh Khalifa Secondary School both in Mombasa. The foundation has also financed the drilling of boreholes in different parts of Northern Kenya