• Austrian Federal Minister for Labour and Economics Martin Kocher held bilateral talks with President William Ruto on enhancing labour migration, increasing trade volumes and expanding markets for Kenya’s agricultural products.
• Kocher who was in the company of 24 Austrian businesses said the meetings have shown the momentum of the bilateral relations from both countries.
Austria is now eyeing the Kenyan labour market to feed into its challenge of skills shortage, with key interest in the ICT, nursing, as well as tourism and hospitality sectors.
On Monday, Austrian Federal Minister for Labour and Economics Martin Kocher held bilateral talks with President William Ruto on enhancing labour migration, increasing trade volumes and expanding markets for Kenya’s agricultural products.
Kocher who was in the company of 24 Austrian businesses said the meetings have shown the momentum of the bilateral relations from both countries.
Speaking during the celebrations of the Austrian National Day in Nairobi, he further noted that they have seen a perfect match of skills in the sectors they are interested in.
“Tourism is an area that is dependant on highly skilled workers and working together in the exchange of these workers is an important aspect that goes beyond tourism,” he said.
Kocher also said Austrian companies in Kenya value the business environment in the country, how they are treated and even the dedicated workers and staff.
On her part, labour CS Florence Bore said Austria continues to be a key partner in various sectors that include trade and investment, education, health, and agriculture.
She said the conclusion of the MoU on economic cooperation between the two countries will enhance relations in key priority areas of labour mobility, innovation, green technology, infrastructure development, and agro-food processing.
“Kenya-Austria relations remain visibly progressive through deliberate, collective action in sectors such as health diplomacy, water, education and climate action,” Bore said.
She further noted that Austria considers Kenya as the hub for the East African region as this was highlighted by the signing of the Kenya-Austria framework of agreement for financial corporation on August 2, 2023.
“The agreement is set to unlock over 40 million euros (Sh 6.37 billion) of funding to Austrian companies wishing to invest in Kenya,” Bore said.
Some of the areas to be financed include education, health care, and digitalisation of services.
Bore commended Austria on its support in the Kenyan education sector by providing scholarships and exchange programmes to students in areas of science, ICT and social sciences.
She also applauded Austria for its support in the health sector by spearheading the implementation of the mother and child unit at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).
On Tuesday, Austria and Kenya signed a 6.1 million euros (Sh 972.5 million) investment to finance the implementation of the second phase as well as the acquisition of equipment for the unit.
The project was initiated in 2019 when Austria invested five million euros (Sh 797.1 million) to facilitate the execution of phase 1.
“We look forward to the finalisation of phase 2 which is vital in improving neonatal, paediatric and maternal health, “ Bore said.
She added that Kenya is in on harnessing the benefits of actualising the existing bilateral air service agreement between the two countries.
“This will help boost bilateral trade and investment and in particular promotion of Kenyan exports to Austria and tourism,” Bore said.
Advantage Austria Commercial Counsellor Edith Predorf noted that the trade volume between the two countries is currently limited with room for improvement.
She said Austria exports approximately 20 million euros (Sh 3.18 billion) to Kenya per year, while Kenya exports 14 million euros (Sh 2.23 billion )
“ We are trying to agree on areas to incorporate but it is up to Kenya to decide on what is important and then we will match it with the technical know-how skills. The reason to come to Kenya is to look for further corporation in the bilateral relations,” Predorf said.