Kenya and Ethiopia have renewed their commitment to the full implementation of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) projects as key enablers of the transformation of the two economies.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the regional infrastructure initiative is central to the unlocking of the economic potential of not only Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan but that of the entire East African region.
Speaking when they presided over the official opening of a two-day Kenya-Ethiopia high level trade forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the two leaders promised to deepen trade and economic ties between the two countries.
“In my mind, the LAPSSET project has great promise of transforming our countries and improving the living conditions of our people,” President Kenyatta said.
“Kenya and Ethiopia resolved to partner in developing first class infrastructure projects connecting our great nations and the continent. By this I have in mind the LAPSSET project which Kenya is, for sure, still fully committed to,” he added.
President Kenyatta is in Ethiopia on a two-day official visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and is accompanied by a high powered trade delegation.
Besides pursuing joint infrastructure projects, President Kenyatta and PM Abiy called for the fastracking of the ongoing transformation of Moyale town into a cross-border trade hub in the region in line with the 2012 Special Status Agreement (SSA).
“The SSA provides a good framework for today’s discussions. The four main areas covered by the Agreement-Trade, Investment, Infrastructure, Food Security and Sustainable Livelihoods-are key in building our relations, promoting our economies and more so, enabling the private sector to thrive,” President Kenyatta said.
The SSA, signed in November 2012, is a framework of collaboration between Kenya and Ethiopia, and was the enabler for the Moyale-Addis Ababa highway, the On Stop Border Post at Moyale and several other joint initiatives.
President Kenyatta invited the Ethiopian private sector to invest in the big 4 agenda projects as he challenged the business community to innovate new opportunities for trade collaboration between Kenya and Ethiopia.
“The Big 4 Agenda, on Food security; Affordable Housing; Manufacturing and Affordable Healthcare offers concrete investment opportunities, and I welcome the Ethiopian private sector to partner with us,” he said.
Prime Minister Abiy said Ethiopia was open to Kenyan investors and called for the strengthening of trade relations between the two countries.
“Opportunities are now wide open for Kenyan companies to invest in energy and aviation in Ethiopia,” PM Abiy said .
“Similarly great potential awaits Kenyan investors to explore our agro processing, textile and garment manufacturing throughout the country,” he added.
The Ethiopian leader said his country was ready to tap from Kenya’s experience and expertise in the tourism sector.
“Considering Kenya’s leading experience and know-how in the tourism sector, there’s so much Ethiopia can gain,” the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also invited President Kenyatta to join him in the ongoing regeneration of Addis Ababa into a green modern city, ideal for urban tourism and the service sector.
Others who spoke at the opening ceremony were Cabinet Secretaries Peter Munya (Trade) and Amb. Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), and the Ethiopian Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Werkneh Gebeyehu.