By PSCU/Judith Akolo
President Uhuru Kenyatta leaves for Ghana on Saturday for a two-day state visit to the West African nation.
President Kenyatta’s visit to Ghana is reciprocal to that by Ghana President John Dramani Mahama in December 2014.
Kenya and Ghana have strong bonds of friendship that began during the independence struggle years in which Ghana’s First President Kwame Nkuruma was a great friend of Kenya’s First President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
During his visit, President Kenyatta will join President Mahama and the people of Ghana in celebrating Ghana’s 59th Independence Day Anniversary at the Black Star Square, one of Ghana’s iconic sites.
President Kenyatta is also expected to convey a message of solidarity with the people of Ghana as they celebrate their independence.
In December 2014, President Mahama joined Kenyans in celebrating the 51st Jamhuri Day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Beginning 2014, President Kenyatta and President Mahama have worked to create stronger trade relations between the two countries as part of a wider campaign to deepen Africa’s integration.
During President Mahama’s visit to Kenya, several key agreements were signed to entrench bilateral ties.
Some of the agreements signed included a Bilateral Air Services Agreement, Trade Agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in Energy, Oil and Gas Sectors, an MoU on Technical, Vocational Educational and Training (TVET) Reforms and agreements on tourism, agriculture and ICT.
Kenya is looking for further cooperation in the promotion and protection of investments, avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes and income.
The deepening of ties is expected to open up more areas for bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of Kenya and Ghana.
Other sectors identified as priority for Kenya-Ghana cooperation include energy, petroleum, industry, science and technology, trade, financing and banking, health, social development, immigration, fight against illicit drug trafficking, education, tourism and cooperation between private sectors and non-governmental organizations.
The trade flow between Kenya and Ghana is in favour of Kenya which in 2014 exported goods valued at Ksh478 million to Ghana against imports valued at Ksh369 million.
Kenya’s major exports to Ghana include sugar confectionery, plant and equipment, plastics, jute, medicament and articles of rubber while imports from Ghana include cocoa, wire products, machines and tools, natural rubber among others.
The potential for Kenyan exports to Ghana are immense. Ghana imports a lot of its food from Europe, Brazil, South Africa and Togo. The few Kenyan products, including tea, coffee and cut-flowers, that get into Ghanaian market are imported through South Africa and Nigeria.
Kenyan products identified as having potential in Ghana market include tea, coffee, cut-flowers, livestock products, sisal products, honey and nuts.
The Ghanaian business community has shown eagerness to import Kenyan products directly from Kenya
In the field of security, Kenya recognizes the significant contribution of Ghana in Peace Support Operations in the maintenance of World Peace and Security. Kenya plays a similar role and both countries will look to enhance the defence cooperation both at bilateral and multilateral levels.
Earlier in the week, President Kenyatta visited Djibouti to attend an African Union Summit on the African Union Mission in Somalia where troop contributing countries resolved that they will increase their efforts to win the war against terrorists in Somalia.
The AMISOM Summit directed, following Kenya’s proposal, full and urgent deployment in all AMISOM Sectors of operations especially in the Gedo region in order to enhance the efficiency of AMISOM operations and consolidate security gains across Somalia.
After the AU Summit, President Kenyatta attended an EAC Summit in Arusha where regional leaders recommitted themselves to a borderless common market where people and goods move without restriction.
Presidents Kenyatta, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Tanzania’s John Magufuli said with a population of 160 million, the EAC common market will benefit the citizens when they rise above boundaries to trade together.
The three leaders also presided over the launch of the upgrading of the 234 km Arusha-Holili-Taveta road project.
The leaders also launched construction of the Arusha – Tengeru dual carriageway and Arusha Bypass Road which are part of the Multinational Road.
The Kenyan section of the project, the 98.4 km Taveta – Mwatate – Voi road, whose construction commenced in May 2014 was launched in September 2015 by President Kenyatta and Jakaya Kikwete, the then President of Tanzania at Taveta.
Kenya is the largest African investor in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, and keeping good relations with these key neighbours is a national imperative.