By Samuel Ouma
Kenya and Barbados inked three important bilateral agreements on Wednesday evening in aviation, environmental protection, commerce, and investment.
In Bridgetown, Barbados, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley witnessed signing an air services agreement, a memorandum of understanding on the development of Barbados’ national botanical garden, and a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a Joint Committee on Trade and Investment.
On behalf of Kenya, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo also signed the three agreements, while Barbados was represented by Ministers Lisa Cummins (Tourism and International Transport), Dr. Adrian Forde (Environment and National Beautification), and Dr. Jerome Walcott (Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade).
President Kenyatta expressed optimism that the agreements will strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries during a high-level meeting that preceded a business forum between Kenyan business community representatives and their Barbadian counterparts on the second day of his official visit to the Caribbean island country.
The President noted that Kenya and Barbados have always worked together to improve collaboration between Africa and the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), highlighting the first Africa-CARICOM Summit held digitally on September 7, 2021, as an example.
“Together, we started and spearheaded the need to have the very first ever African-CARICOM Summit that was supposed to be held on the sidelines of CHOGM last year. Unfortunately, due to Covid, we were not able to do so.
“But again banking on the resilience of our two countries, we still managed this year to hold that first Africa-CARICOM Summit where we had participation of all our regional economic communities (RECs) of our continent together with leaders of CARICOM,” the President said.
Kenya and Barbados are focusing on deepening people-to-people interactions, he said, adding that it is the people who can turn the two countries’ good relations into profitable and meaningful relationships.
He expressed optimism that the interaction between the two countries’ businesspeople will serve as a catalyst for bringing many more people to Africa to engage in trade, tourism, culture, sports, education, and other areas of mutual interest, not only from Barbados but also from the rest of the Caribbean region.
The President disclosed that Kenya and Barbados are exploring ways of establishing direct air and sea links to enable the free movement of people, goods, and services between the two countries.
Prime Minister Mottley, for her part, said the significant number of Kenyan private sector representatives who attended the Barbados business forum demonstrated the two countries’ commitment to expanding their economic connections.
“Not even Covid-19 will be able to keep us apart. I believe we’ve all realized that we’re in a marathon, not a sprint, now. And that we have had to become resilient in the past, and that this generation of Kenyans and Barbadians must be resilient to the times, whether they are affected by the epidemic or the climate,” stated the Prime Minister.