Ireland foreign minister visits East Africa bearing gifts

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 8 – Ireland has placed a big bet on the East African region  Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney takes a three-day visit to the region bearing gifts.

Coveney toured Somalia and Ethiopia before ending his trip to Kenya where witnessed a signing of MoUs and Multi-million deals by Kenya and Ireland firms.

He also met with President Uhuru Kenyatta at Statehouse.

Some of the deals include  Irish firm IPM Group and Kevian Kenya on potato farming where the two firms will develop a technology for production of seed potato that will provide higher yields.

Girffith College (Ireland) and Riara University also signed an education deal while the Nairobi Hospital and Irish Firm Vitro Software also signed a multi-million contract where Vitro Software will provide clinical management software for the healthcare sector.

While in Kenya the Minister presented a five-year plan on Ireland and Kenya to collaborate in agriculture.

Dubbed the Ireland Kenya Agri-Food Strategy 2017 – 2021, the strategy is to see enhanced cooperation and investments in Agri-Food for the mutual benefit of both countries.

“These grants and MOUs will see institutions and policies strengthened in support of the agri-food sector in Kenya and increase agricultural output and family incomes in Kenya,” Fisheries permanent Secretary Micheni Ntiba said in a news conference.

Farming is at the heart of Kenyan economy accounting for nearly 30 percent of GDP and employing over 11 million people.

Currently, the sector is dominated by smallholder farmers at 80 percent earning low incomes.

“There is a huge potential to increase the productivity and incomes of these farmers. The country has an active cooperative movement and an exceptionally strong mobile payments infrastructure. These and other features can be leveraged to extract more impact from agri-food to Kenya’s benefit,” Coveney said.

Key exports from Ireland include essential oils and perfumes, office and data processing machinery, beverages and dairy products while Kenya exports to Ireland include flowers, fruit vegetables, tea and coffee.

The total annual trade, incorporating exports and imports, between Kenya and Ireland increased from 2.7 billion shillings in 2005 to Sh4.7billion in 2014.


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