The UAE-KSA Joint Trade Mission concluded the second stop of its African tour yesterday, where it held the “UAE-KSA-Uganda Trade and Investment Conference” in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi with the participation of more than 60 businessmen and investors from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The trade mission was organized by Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), in cooperation with the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Abu Dhabi and the Saudi Export Development Authority.
The trade mission, which was organized by the Sharjah Exports Development Center that is considered to be part of the SCCI, also held a press conference and official meetings with officials from several Kenyan governmental agencies concerned with economic and investment affairs. Business meetings between the UAE and Saudi businessmen and their Kenyan counterparts were also held.
The meeting was attended by HE Abdallah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman of the SCCI, HE Adan Mohammed, Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, HE Hassan Issa Al Hosani, Minister Plenipotentiary at the UAE Embassy in Kenya, HE Dr. Mohammed Khayat, Saudi Ambassador to Kenya, HE Richard Ngatia, Chairman of the Nairobi Chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, HE Moses Ikiara, Managing Director of the Kenya Investment Authority, as well as a large number of government officials and representatives from the Kenyan business community.
In the speech given at the inauguration of the UAE-KSA-Kenya Trade and Investment Conference, HE Abdullah Al-Owais conveyed the greetings of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to the leadership and Government of Kenya. He also expressed the sincere wishes of His Highness for the continued success, progress and prosperity to the friendly country of Kenya and its people, stressing that the strong bilateral relations between the UAE and Kenya are based on a spirit of understanding and mutual respect.
Al Owais stated that this visit contains an additional dimension when compared to the previous two visits organized by the Sharjah Chamber during the past two years, as this visit comes after the UAE and Kenya signed several memorandums of understanding at the end of last February. He added that in light of these developments, the UAE expresses its hope to further cooperation with Kenya in several fields. This cooperation involves enhancing trade and investment between the two countries and developing leading partnerships in the sectors of food security, energy, retail, infrastructure, transport, logistics, agriculture and other fields, especially since Kenya represents a prominent economic, commercial and service center in East and Central Africa.
Al Owais stated that the Sharjah Chamber considers the trade mission a continuation of its previous efforts in building bridges of communication and strengthening the economic relations between the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kenya. These efforts are part of the framework of joint endeavors between these three countries to raise the rates of trade and to establish new and promising investment partnerships. He also pointed out that the UAE and Saudi products enjoy unique and competitive advantages in terms of their diversity, quality, high specifications and prices.
Al Owais recommended strengthening joint efforts between the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kenya, by providing a database on areas and opportunities for investment and export, facilitating the establishment of exhibitions and forums that support the business communities in these friendly countries, increasing the mutual exchange of visits, taking advantage of the incentives, advantages and guarantees of investment, activating channels of communication between private sector establishments, and enhancing transparency in addressing and handling challenges. He expressed the hope that the visit will contribute in increasing the volume of trade and investment exchange, especially as statistics are still below expectations and do not match the size of opportunities available. The Chamber's data indicate that the volume of exports from Sharjah to Kenya reached more than 440 million Dirhams in 2017, while re-exports from Sharjah to Kenya reached more than 322 million Dirhams during the same period.
Adan Mohammed, Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives stated that the government of Kenya appreciates the friendly relations with the UAE, which is reflected in the diplomatic Kenyan presence in Abu Dhabi since 1982 and the presence of UAE in Nairobi since 2012. He also said that the UAE is one of the most prominent economic countries in the Arab world because of its magnificent performance in the world arena, which makes it an important partner for Kenya in terms of trade and investment.
Mohammed stated that Kenya’s exports reached about 309 million dollars in 2016. The most important exports were of tea and petroleum oils. Kenya’s imports from the UAE during the same period reached about 914 million dollars, which included petroleum oils, copper and lemon. He also pointed out that there are many possibilities to expand trade between both countries despite the low levels of trade between them.
He then said that the Kenyan government has set a policy of continuous measurement of the investment and business environment to achieve prosperity and is seeking through the Kenya Investment Authority to facilitate all requirements of foreign businessmen to start business. He also added that Kenya is an entry point to East and Central Africa that provides access to a market of more than 600 million people. Kenya is a regional center that serves Africa and the rest of the world, which makes investment in Kenya a huge place in the African market.
Adan Mohammed, Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, stated that the presence of the UAE-Saudi trade mission in Nairobi to discuss ways of boosting economic and trade relations with Kenya indicates the eagerness of both sides to develop relations and build new partnerships in order to consolidate strategic economic relations that have reached advanced stages.
Mohammed said that the Trade & Investment Conference represents the advanced stage of these relations, pointing out that the trade exchange that Kenya, the UAE and Saudi Arabia has achieved between them is remarkable in the recent period compared to the past few years. He noted that there are lucrative business and investment opportunities that can be exploited for both sides and the establishment of joint ventures, especially since Kenya is a country with many natural elements, as well as an active air traffic that connects these countries.
Hassan Issa Al Hosani, Minister Plenipotentiary at the UAE Embassy in Kenya, praised the efforts of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry in organizing this Trade and Investment Conference that will enhance the efforts of the UAE in supporting economic relations between both countries.
Al Hosani reviewed the history of the UAE-Kenyan relations during his speech, especially on the economic level, pointing out the most important memorandums of understanding signed between both countries on the economic side, which has played a vital role in developing these relations.
H.E. Dr. Mohammed Khayat, Saudi Ambassador to Kenya, stated that he considers the UAE-Saudi participation in this trade mission to be an embodiment of the brotherly relations between the two countries, and that it aims to support businessmen in both countries.
Mishary Al Khayat, representative of the Saudi Export Development Authority, stressed the depth of relations between Saudi Arabia and Kenya since 1963 and the dedication of their leaderships to consolidate the best relations between them for the benefit of both countries and their people. He also stated that participating in this important meeting opens new horizons for networking with the African business community and provides the delegation a valuable opportunity to get a closer look at the needs of consumers in Kenya, which paves the way for extensive trade relations with trading partners from both countries.
HE Richard Ngatia, Chairman of the Nairobi Chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), reviewed the economic relations between KNCCI and Chambers of Commerce in the UAE, and stated that organizing this Trade and Investment Conference will enhance cooperation between the private sector and the official economic institutions.
Ngatia also reviewed the strengths of the Kenyan economic sectors as well as its most important products that are exported to various countries around the world, and praised the positive and effective role of the private sector in achieving sustainable economic development. He also pointed out that the Kenya Chamber looks forward to enhance and promote joint work and fruitful cooperation through the conference by inviting UAE and Saudi companies to invest seriously in his country, which would contribute to a qualitative shift in the Kenyan economy.
The Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi participated in the UAE-KSA-Uganda Trade and Investment Conference in order to support Abu Dhabi's economic agenda and to explore new emerging markets with investment opportunities in promising sectors such as tourism, agriculture and others. During the conference, the department provided support to ten companies, whose fields include oil, gas, building materials and food, in order to further growth in trade between Abu Dhabi and Kenya.
The delegation, which toured a number of markets, factories and governmental authorities in Kenya before leaving Nairobi, represented the Expo Center Sharjah as part of the Center's efforts to promote the economic, cultural and tourism events organized by the Center throughout the year, as well as to enhance the emirate's leading position on the regional and global business and tourism industry.
The organization of the UAE-KSA trade mission to Kenya, which was accompanied by a large media delegation representing various media sectors in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, came within the framework of joint efforts to achieve economic integration between the two brotherly countries. These efforts include the Chamber's eagerness in supporting the business communities in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia by promoting their exports, assisting in their discovery of new markets that contribute to expanding their business in the African continent, and establishing useful investment partnerships.