On Thursday, October 11, Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Simon Coveney, signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) on strengthening bilateral economic and trade co-operation between the two nations.
This was on the sidelines of the bi-annual Africa Ireland Economic Forum in Dublin where Mr Munya was the keynote speaker.
First held in 2011, the forum is now a regular event that provides a platform for discussion on emerging opportunities for trade and investment. In addition to attending the forum, Mr Munya and his delegation met officials of Ireland’s Investment Promotion and Development Agency and the International Development Ireland- a consulting firm working to build the capacity of the Kenya Investment Authority’s One Stop Centre- to learn about Ireland’s experience in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The Kenyan team also attended a roundtable meeting on trade and investment where 40 representatives of Irish companies discussed the opportunities for strengthening trade and investment between Ireland and East Africa.
Over the past 100 years, Kenya and Ireland have had a friendly relationships of mutual benefit. For example, trade between the two countries grew by 82 per cent from $45 million (Sh4.5 billion) in 2007 to $82 million (Sh8.2 billion) in 2016.
Kenya’s exports to Ireland in 2017 were valued at $13.5 million (Sh 1.35 billion) while imports were valued at $32.5 million (Sh 3.25 billion).
Principal exports from Ireland to Kenya include manufacturing metals, office machines, cereals and beverages. Key imports from Kenya to Ireland include coffee, tea, fruits and vegetables.
The value of trade in services between Ireland and Kenya has grown by 78 percent from $57 million (Sh5.8 billion) in 2012 to $100 million (Sh10.2 billion) in 2016. Services exported to Ireland by Kenya in 2016 were valued at $16 million (Sh1.6 billion) while imports from Kenya were valued at $85 million (Sh8.6 billion).
Beyond facilitating trade, the Government of Ireland is supporting key trade and investment facilitation institutions through capacity building programmes that contribute and impact on improving the doing business environment in Kenya.
Some of the projects being pursued through the Irish Embassy in Nairobi include aiding the Kenya Investment Authority to establish a one-stop-centre service for investors in Kenya.
The embassy also has an MoU with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) to advance collaboration on information sharing, mutual cooperation in outward and inward trade missions and joint implementation of activities and programmes to strengthen private sector engagement between Irish and Kenyan businesses. The MoU also covers specific support in relation to women in business in Kenya.
The embassy has worked to increase the commercial linkages between Ireland and Kenya through engagements and support to the work of the Business Ireland Kenya (BIK) network.
The network promotes business and trade between the two countries through a structured platform that supports business-to- business engagements, networking opportunities and information sharing. BIK has over 100 registered members comprising Irish and Kenyan businesses.
Vincent O’neill, Ireland Ambassador to Kenya.