Kenya and Guinea-Bissau on Friday signed three agreements to deepen economic and social ties between the two countries.
The bilateral pacts, which included an agreement to establish a Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC), were signed after Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea-Bissau led their delegations in bilateral talks at State House, Nairobi.
The agreement on JCC aims at establishing a framework for bilateral consultations and cooperation between the two countries in various fields including political, economic, commercial, scientific education, cultural and technical matters.
The other two agreements signed were a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the establishment of Political and Diplomatic Consultations between the two countries and another one between the Foreign Service Academy of Kenya and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guinea Bissau.
Speaking at the bilateral meeting, President Kenyatta urged the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Kenya and Guinea-Bissau to expedite the implementation of the agreed areas of cooperation.
“This will create the requisite momentum in our bilateral engagements, allowing us to accelerate growth and achieve win-win cooperation,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta pointed out that the agreements will leverage the existing platforms to share the dividends that will accrue from the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the agreed areas.
Noting that bilateral engagements have been low despite the solid relations between the two countries, the Head of State said the time was ripe for the two nations to recalibrate and elevate their ties to a more strategic level.
He emphasized the need for the two countries to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) trade to boost their economic ties.
“The entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) provides untapped opportunities to collaborate in scaling up trade and investment between our two countries, to scale up production and benefit from expanded regional markets,” President Kenyatta said.
He reiterated his call to African countries to work together more closely in addressing challenges facing the continent, saying they are allies in development and not competitors.
“Because we are not competitors, we need to complement one another, we need to strengthen one another,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta also thanked President Sissoco Embaló for making the visit to Kenya, saying it will reinvigorate the bilateral relations and reaffirm the two countries’ steadfast commitment to multilateralism as well as their unwavering unity of purpose as Africans.
On his part, President Sissoco Embaló said his country was committed to strengthening its long outstanding mutually beneficial ties with Kenya.
“Guinea-Bissau and Kenya share long outstanding mutually beneficial relation, the brotherly partnership between our two countries is happening by common values and principles,” President Sissoco Embaló said.
The Guinea-Bissau President cited agriculture and tourism as some of the areas that the two countries could cooperate in to bolster their economic ties.
He paid tribute to Kenya’s founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, for being one of the African leaders who inspired the struggle for the independence of his country.
Present at the bilateral talks were Head of Public Service Dr. Joseph Kinyua, Cabinet Secretaries Raychelle Omamo, Monica Juma, Amina Mohamed, James Macharia and Attorney General Paul Kihara among other senior Government officials.
After the bilateral talks and signing of agreements, President Kenyatta hosted a luncheon where he conferred President Sissoco Embaló with the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart (E.G.H.), one of the highest awards of honour in Kenya.
President Sissoco Embaló reciprocated by awarding President Kenyatta the prestigious Amílcar Cabral medal.
Earlier, President Sissoco Embaló, who arrived in the country on Thursday at the start of his three-day State Visit, was received at State House, Nairobi by his host President Kenyatta in an elaborate state reception that included a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Kenya Air Force and a 21-gun-salute.