Kenya in renewed call for regional integration

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Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has underscored the need for East African Community member states and the wider region to nurture peace and unity, saying colonial boundaries should not divide people.

The President said the region stands to achieve faster development if its people work together in peace and harmony.

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“We need to live together as brothers and sisters and respect all communities in the region,” the President said.

The President was speaking at State House, Nairobi, during a meeting with King Abdile Wabar Abdi, the Ethiopian-based traditional leader of the Degodia community found in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.

King Abdi, who was accompanied by a huge delegation of members of the Degodia community from Kenya and Ethiopia, delivered a message of peace and unity to the President.

President Kenyatta said cultural diplomacy should be used as a vehicle for uniting people, adding that Kenya sees its neighbours not as threats but allies in development.

READ ALSO:Kenya makes effort to spur economic growth in EAC

Ethiopia is a strategic partner in the ongoing development of the US$24 billion Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor development launched in Kenya in 2012.

The Head of State commended the traditional leader of the Degodia community for spearheading peace, unity and understanding in the region.

In honour of his role in ensuring cross-border peace and unity in the region, the President bestowed on King Abdi with the Elder of Burning Spear (EBS) award, one of the highest national honours.

Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi, former Governor Ahmed Abdullahi and both current and former MPs from Wajir and Mandera counties including Bashir Abdullahi, Bashane Gaal, Adan Keynan, Ahmed Kolosh, Rashid Kassim, Farhiya Haji, Abass Sheikh, Abdikadir Ore and Abdikadir Mohamed attended the meeting.

Also present at the meeting were Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya Meles Alem Tikea and CAS Mohamed Elmi among others.

Ethiopia and Kenya have been recently pushing for stronger bilateral ties even as commerce remains largely unidirectional, with Ethiopia mainly importing products from Kenya.

READ ALSO:Kenya to boost trade with Ethiopia

Both countries are members of the IGAD trade bloc.

The two countries are endowed with vast natural resources, productive citizenry, huge industrial base and capability, growing agricultural sector and a large market potential of nearly 145 million people.

In addition, they are both members of the Tripartite Free Trade area (TFTA), with a market potential of about 650 million people.

Kenya has been warning up to her neighbours mainly Tanzania, which has had trade differences with Kenya for decades.

READ ALSO:Kenya-Tanzania relations now stronger, positive on trade

The narrative is however expected to change with renewed friendship between President Kenyatta and Magufuli. Kenyatta has also had a strong relation with Uganda’s President Museveni.

Rwanda on the other hand has also maintained good relations with Kenya.

The regional Heads of States have been pushing for regional integration in the spirit of the East African Community(EAC), whose members also include Burundi and South Sudan.

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Martin Mwita is a business reporter based in Kenya. He covers equities, capital markets, trade and the East African Cooperation markets.

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