- The two countries agreed to improve ties in trade, infrastructure, transport, tourism, culture and security
- We want to make everything easy for us
A new chapter has been opened in the relationship between Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania.
It follows the start of a two-day state visit by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu, who is in the country at the invitation of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Suluhu’s visit marks a turning point in the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Speaking at State House in Nairobi after holding private discussions, Uhuru said they agreed to improve ties in trade, infrastructure, transport, tourism, culture and security.
He said they had instructed senior government officials from the two countries to constantly engage each other to strengthen the ties.
“We have instructed our ministers to be meeting from time to time to resolve small issues that cause problems for the two countries. We want to make everything easy for us,” he said.
Suluhu appreciated the reception Kenya accorded her on the first trip as President saying it signified the importance of the visit.
The frosty relations between Dodoma and Nairobi had escalated under the reign of the President John Magufuli. Both countries have been accusing each other of unfair trade practices.
Suluhu said the two countries need to improve ties as they share a long border, with Kenya being the fifth biggest investor in Tanzania globally and number one in the East Africa region.
She said there are 513 huge Kenyan investments in Tanzania worth US$1.7 billion (Sh170 billion), employing some 51,000 Tanzanians.
“There are 30 Tanzanian companies which have invested Sh19 billion in Kenya employing some 2,600 people. I promise that we will invest more in Kenya to increase the volume of trade,” she noted.
The two leaders announced that they had signed a deal to build a pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa to address energy needs of the two countries.
Suluhu further announced that the two countries had agreed to cooperate in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
“We want testing and clearance at the borders to be fast so as not to hinder trade,” she said.
Uhuru noted that they had agreed to speed work on the Bagamoyo-Horohoro-Lunga-Lunga-Malindi road project.
The project aims to stimulate regional integration by reducing travel time, facilitating trade and the movement of people across borders.
It is expected to open up of access to touristic attractions sites including beaches and the Saadani National Park, providing a direct link between the ports of Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mombasa
Uhuru further said they also talked about improving security ties; in particular in the war against terrorism.
Suluhu said they agreed to do away with some tariffs at the borders in order to encourage trade.
She announced that Uhuru would be her chief guest during celebrations to mark 60 years of independence on December 12
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hosted an official state dinner for Suluhu at State House.
Conspicuously missing during Tuesday’s event was Deputy President William Ruto, whose aides said he had not been invited to State House.
It is not clear whether the DP will show up on Wednesday at Parliament during a special sitting joint address by Suluhu.
Suluhu arrived at State House, Nairobi at noon and was received by Uhuru.
After playing the national anthems of both countries and the EAC anthem, Suluhu was accorded the 21-gun salute before inspecting a guard of honour. Uhuru then introduced Suluhu to the cabinet secretaries before embarking on private talks.
All this time, Ruto was at his Karen residence hosting Rev Daniel Lotuno of AIC.
Uhuru and Suluhu will also hold consultations at a business forum for Tanzanian and Kenyan business community.
-Edited by SKanyara